Primary Care Centre needed in Dundalk – Adams

DSC_3254_6510Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin TD for Louth, challenged the Taoiseach during Leaders Questions on Tuesday regarding the provision of a Primary Care Centre for Dundalk and the allocation of resources for the mental health service at the Ladywell facility at the Louth Hospital, Dundalk.

Commenting on Budget 2017’s allocation of funding for health Gerry Adams was especially scathing of the failure of the government to provide sufficient funding for mental health services.

Teachta Adams said:

“Last week I visited the Ladywell mental health facility in Dundalk which provides services for much of North Louth.

“The staff are very dedicated but the conditions in which they are forced to treat patients is entirely unsuitable. 

“Rooms in the Ladywell Centre originally served as staff accommodation when the hospital was constructed over 70 years ago.  They are inappropriate for patients and staff and numerous offices are closed due to dampness. 

“The maintenance bill for roof repairs is a constant drain on resources and patients and staff also utilise a series of prefabs which are at the end of their usefulness.

“Staff recently added to the mental health team in North Louth do not have any suitable premises so they work out of St. Brigid’s in Ardee, with patients as far away as Carlingford having to make their own way to appointments. This is totally unacceptable.

“In May the European Investment Bank cleared a €70m loan to build fourteen new primary care centres.

“The construction of a primary care centre in the Dundalk region would facilitate the provision of mental health and other services to enable holistic treatment of patients at one location.

“However there is no primary care centre scheduled for the North East despite this area having some of the highest indices of deprivation and social isolation in the State.

“Two weeks ago Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil rejected a Sinn Féin motion to provide €20 million for 24/7 care for those in need of treatment for mental health issues. Instead the government decided to amend the Capital Acquisitions Tax providing an unnecessary windfall to some two thousand people each year at a cost of €20 million. 

“The Government talks a lot about the shift to primary care, it’s time to turn words into actions and deliver a primary care centre in Dundalk.”

 

Primary care services cut to the bone as Minister justifies overspend

imelda photo orangeSinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath, Imelda Munster asked questions this week in the Dáil about HSE plans to cut primary care services in the Louth-Meath area, and the news that the HSE has instructed management in the health service to save €1.5 million by way of staffing cuts between now and the end of the year.

She asked Minister for State Catherine Byrne, who was standing in for Minister for Health Simon Harris who was otherwise engaged, if the Minister would reverse this cut of €1.5million, given existing pressures on the services in Louth and Meath.

Deputy Munster:

“These measures will lead to serious cutbacks in services provided by occupational therapists, physiotherapists, public health nurses and, in particular, home help support staff. Last Friday week the HSE called a meeting at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Louth at which it informed management there that the contracts of nine full-time clerical and administrative staff and one part-time clerical worker were to be terminated with immediate effect. It beggars belief that at a time when we are seeing services, especially primary care services, cut to the bone, further cuts are being made just as we come into the winter months. That is totally unacceptable and amounts to neglect of patient care.”

The Minister’s response was that the 1.5million was an overspend.

Deputy Munster:

“How can you have overspend when services are already cut to the bone. How can the Minister justify this? It’s bordering on neglect of patient care.”

Munster: No show from Minister as 18 beds close in Louth

Imelda Photo WhiteIn the Dáil on Thursday evening Sinn Féin Louth and Meath East TD Imelda Munster raised the matter of 18 beds assigned to services for the elderly in Louth being closed due to nursing staff shortages.

Questioning Minister for State Catherine Byrne, as Minister for Health Simon Harris was unavailable, Deputy Munster asked that the Department instruct the HSE to implement a fast-tracking process to fill these vacancies.

“I realise there is an overall nursing recruitment plan in place but a significant part of the problem in my constituency is the serious delay by the HSE management nationally, not locally, in approving the filling of staff vacancies. It was known for months before the 18 beds were closed that there was a need to recruit staff. Those approvals were left on a desk or shelf gathering dust in the full knowledge of the crisis we were facing.”

“The HSE at national level is responsible for the closure of beds in Drogheda and Dundalk. They were fully aware of the impending crisis in elderly services in Louth and instead of approving the posts for the filling of vacancies well in advance, they closed 18 beds.”

“It is either total incompetence or a deliberate policy of bed closure. This will have a knock on effect on Our Lady of Lourdes hospital coming into the winter months. Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital is one of the worst in the country for overcrowding, being often top of the list in this regard. Yesterday, for instance, 29 patients were on trolleys there. I am calling on the Minister to reverse those cuts as we approach the winter.”

Deputy Munster expressed outrage that the Minister for Health wasn’t even in attendance to answer questions or be held accountable.

“The Minister needs to prioritise the fast-tracking of approval to fill vacancies on a national level and I intend to pursue the Minister on this matter.”

“Elderly services have been decimated in county Louth and the Minister needs to instruct senior management of the HSE to get their act together and fast-track the approval process and reinstate those beds as a matter of urgency”.

Cllr Joanna Byrne opposes giving The Chief Executive the power to evict council tenants

joanna-byrne-1At October’s monthly Local authority council meeting, Cllr Joanna Byrne – Chairperson of Louth’s Strategic Policy Committee, opposed a motion put to the councillors worded:

“That this council supports a change in legislation which would grant the Chief Executive the power to evict council tenants (who are known to be causing frequent and extreme anti-social behaviour against their neighbours) on the word of a Garda Superintendent.”

Cllr Byrne pointed out that “there is a current Anti-Social Behaviour strategy with procedures of warnings before legal action to evict a tenant, this policy was drafted by the Housing SPC and adopted by the council. We also have a full time ASB Investigation officer within the county, both put in place to deal with the issues outlined in this motion.”

Commenting Cllr Byrne said:

“Whilst I recognise ASB is a contentious issue raised with Councillors on a daily basis, and it is an undeserved endurance for neighbouring tenants, I do not believe that this power should be given to any one person be it our Chief Executive or any other Chief Executive on other councils. These situations are the reason we have policies and procedures in place.”

Cllr Byrne said “Should the SPC need to review certain elements of this policy then that is what we will do. But it does not take away from the fact no God-like power with such severe consequences on families, which could include children, be bestowed on any one individual. We need a multi-agency approach with LCC, An Garda Síochana and other housing bodies all working together to tackle these issues. As pointed out by our Director of Services for Housing today there are currently only 172 ASB complaints on the system from a housing stock of 3975 in the county. 60 of these were unfounded complaints with no further action required so the need for a change in legislation in my opinion, at this given time, is unwarranted. We are there to protect the rights of all our constituents and work with and guide them to comply with Housing policies in place. Evictions are life changing decisions that will not only affect said culprits, but also their partners and children in most cases and should be only considered as an extreme last resort!”

New Councillor For Dundalk Carlingford as Jim Loughran Retires

antoin-and-jimSinn Féin have announced the retirement of Councillor Jim Loughran who represents the Dundalk Carlingford area. Jim has been a serving councillor since 2004.

Following a party convention on Wednesday evening (12th October) it was decided that Antóin Watters from the area would be co-opted to replace the popular Loughran.

Antóin Watters is 27 years old, he was born in Armagh but moved to the Cooley Peninsula in 1998. He married Fionnghula in July and they live in the townland of Lugbriscan.

Antóin attended Rathcor National School, Bush Post Primary School and then went on to receive an Honours Degree in Building Surveying from the DKIT. He plays senior football with his local GAA team the Cooley Kickhams and is also on the committee.

Antóin joined Sinn Féin when he was just 18 and immediately became an activist in the local Campbell/Donnelly Sinn Féin Cumann based in Cooley.  Watters said “I wanted to play my part in bringing about a better Ireland, to make life better for those who were struggling, to build a country that people would be proud to call home instead of opting to emigrate. Being an activist in the party allowed me to do that, to make a difference and working closely with Jim Loughran over the years he taught me that local issues can make a person’s life easier, and that’s as important as the bigger picture.”

Antóin will continue his activist work on local issues. Currently his immediate priorities are speed limits and traffic calming measures around our schools.  He has also been very vocal in his opposition to Brexit. “As an Assistant Manager at O’Connor Roofing Supplies which is based in Lordship, we are going to be hit very badly if Brexit goes ahead. A big percentage of our trade would come from the north and we can already see a change because of the sterling/Euro rate, imagine what it’s going to be like when the border is erected and custom’s posts are once again in place. Brexit will devastate the border areas and I will continue to support the Border Areas Against Brexit campaign.”

Sinn Féin are the largest party in Louth with 10 councillors and 2 TDs. Antóin said “we are constantly growing in the Peninsula and throughout the county and I want to help continue this.”

antoin-convention-group

Antóin Watters will be co-opted at the November Council meeting.