Press Release

Minister Martin refutes newspaper reports on threatened hospital closures

The Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin TD, today (22 January, 2001) described as ‘unfounded’ media reports that the Government had any plans for the closure of hospitals.

“These recent reports that there are new rationalisation plans for the closure of up to 30 hospitals across the country are without foundation. I wish to assure the general public that I have no plans to close any of the hospitals referred to in the newspaper article. I have not ordered any major review of hospitals or the hospital system” the Minister said.

The newspaper reports, referred to by the Minister, provided comment on a major study on the working hours of Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs) and the impact of implementation of the EU Directive on working hours.

The study’s Report has yet to be presented to the Minister. It was drawn up by a Steering Group, with an independent Chairperson and the Group included representatives of the Irish Medical Organisation and Health Service Employers. Following presentation of the Report to the Minister, it will be submitted to Government after which it will be published.

The Minister said that “The suggestion about hospital closures was a complete misrepresentation of the Report’s recommendation”.

The Department of Health and Children, in conjunction with the Health Boards, is currently involved in a major upgrading of hospital facilities under the £2 billion National Development Plan for the period 2001 – 2006.

Planning for major refurbishment is well underway in a number of the hospitals referred to in the newspaper article and some of this construction has already commenced.