The East Cork Journal has learned that the HSE are to close the Castlemartyr Health Centre within weeks, and transfer its services to Carrigtwohill.
The closure means that low income families in the area, people with a disability, and the elderly, will have to make a 30km round trip to access services.
The controversial move comes after weeks of uncertainty following an announcement in August that plans for a major redevelopment of the site had been stalled.
The Castlemartyr Health hub was granted permission in January 2019 to carry out a single story extension, including the remodelling of the interior and installation of a ramp at the entrance.
The Health Service Executive, however, said when the cost of refurbishment was investigated they shelved the project as it emerged that the costs involved would be prohibitive and did not represent a “prudent use of public funds”
The HSE initially told the East Cork Journal that the Public Health Service would operate from their base at Midleton hospital 6 miles away, but refused to give a timeframe for the move. However, communication received by Independent Cllr Mary Linehan Foley confirms the closure within weeks, and services will now be delivered at the Carrigtwohill Primary Care Centre.
Cllr Linehan Foley last night branded the HSE “heartless” at their decision, amid fears that vulnerable people would struggle to make the long trip.
The Independent Cllr said the closure will have a “devastating” impact not just on the Castlemartyr community but also on the outlying areas of Shanagarry, Ballymacoda and Ladysbridge, the Knockadoon Peninsula and Garryvoe.
She said news of the pending closure has already “caused a great deal of stress. It’s completely heartless for the Health Service Executive to expect my constituents to make this long journey, when HSE policy is to follow the patient not the services.”
Ms Linehan Foley said it’s clear that the health reforms promised by Sláinte Care are purely aspirational, as it appears the HSE are operating a policy of centralising key services, such as their Healthcare facilities, and East Cork seems to be getting hit the worst.
She said the latest developments have strengthened the need for a Primary Care Centre for Youghal.
Cllr Linehan Foley, who is to raise the matter at today’s Regional Health Forum, said it did not make sense to have a Primary Care service planned for Cobh, when there is already a facility in Carrigtwohill.
She said Cobh is just 20 minutes by road to their nearest hospital, and Carrigtwohill just 15 minutes away.
“The nearest Hospital to Youghal is an hour away, and after 6:00pm there is no doctor available in the town which has a population of 12,000. The nearest South Doc facility for residents is 40 minutes away in Midleton.”
The HSE were asked for further comment, but no statement was forthcoming prior to going to print.