No Midoc representative attends meeting to discuss service closure

Thursday, 19 April 2018

UTTER disappointment was expressed that no Midoc representative was presented at a crunch meeting held to discuss the unexpected closure of the out of hours GP services in Birr and Edenderry.
Offaly's public representatives including TDs and local councillors met with Health Service Executive (HSE) representatives in Tullamore on Tuesday morning (April 17) where the shock closure and transfer of the Midoc services in Birr and Edenderry to Tullamore was hotly debated.
However, the meeting was adjourned as there was no representative from Midoc (the GPs) at the meeting. There was also no access for the public representatives to the independent review of the out of hours GP service in Offaly, commissioned by Midoc, that ultimately directed its decision to shut their satellite clinics in both towns.
Agreement was instead reached that another meeting would be scheduled to discuss the matter again while calls were made for Midoc representatives to attend any future meeting and access to this review be given to Offaly's TDs and councillors as soon as possible. It's also understood the HSE apologised at Tuesday's meeting to the public representatives for the "lack of communication" on the issue and how the overall situation was handled.
With both local communities angry over what is described as a massive "loss of services", Offaly Fine Gael TD Marcella Corcoran Kennedy called for clarity from Midoc in relation to the closure of its service in both towns. "I'm very dissatisfied that Midoc didn't send a representative to this morning's meeting, which was arranged specifically to address the huge concerns of public representatives and the community with the decision to close its service in Birr and Edenderry.
“The way in which this decision was made without any notice or consultation with the public has caused anger and concern in the community. This issue is leaving many patients very distressed with the necessity to drive long journeys to access this vital health service."
At the meeting, it's understood the HSE's Chief Officer, Pat Bennett undertook to arrange a meeting with HSE management, representatives from Midoc and public representatives as soon as possible. "Mr Bennett advised the meeting that Midoc commissioned an independent review of its service in Offaly and that the independent recommendations have directed Midoc's recent decision. I have requested that a copy of this report is provided to me in advance of the next meeting.
"The message is very strong from this morning's meeting and from my discussions with a huge number of people since this issue emerged, that any loss of service will not be tolerated. There's a determination to fight this decision tooth and nail. I would very much welcome clarity from Midoc."
Commenting after the meeting, Fianna Fail TD Barry Cowen reiterated his call for HSE management to reverse its decision to close the Midoc clinics in Birr and Edenderry. Deputy Cowen sought an additional meeting and has demanded that Midoc representatives attend and take on board the concerns of the local communities.
"It's deeply disappointing that no representative from Midoc was available to attend a meeting with public representatives this morning to discuss this issue. The manner in which the closure of these two clinics was announced was unsatisfactory considering there was no consultation with the local community, and now Midoc representatives won't even attend a meeting to set out their rationale behind this decision.
"I am totally opposed to the downgrading of GP services in Offaly. I'm calling for an independent review of this decision to be conducted. HSE management should work with Midoc to ensure these clinics can remain open. The focus should be on growing primary care services instead of cutting back on them. If additional funding is needed to help Midoc maintain existing services then this is something which should be explored."
The Offaly TD is now seeking a follow up meeting with representatives of Midoc and his Fianna Fáil colleagues at the earliest opportunity in order to resolve this issue. "It's a serious matter that needs immediate attention," concluded Deputy Cowen.
Cllr Peter Ormond, who first hightlighted the issue with the Tribune after people contacted him about the sudden closure of the Birr based service, expressed his disappointment there was no Midoc representative at the meeting and how they (the public representatives) "all spoke about their frustration at the process and they wanted the services back" at the meeting.
Cllr Ormond said, unfortunately, there was "little or no progress made" on the issue because there was no Midoc representative and no plans made available to the public representatives. He vowed the councillors would continue to fight for these local services. "We need to sit down and have a good conversation. We are all united on this and from the meeting this morning, there's a lot of talk about the GPs and the services but there was little or no talk about the end user, which is what we are concerned about. But, we are going to try and meet again and put a working group together so that we can move on with this."
Cllr Ormond said: "We certainly need to see that report from Midoc. It's disappointing that this report hasn't been made available to us. So, we really want to see that report before the next meeting and go through it and see what it's in it. We all appreciate the work the GPs do and the severe pressures they are under with regard to their own work load. However, there was a system in place and we would like to see that system remain in place."
Elsewhere, Cllr John Clendennen noted it was made "perfectly clear to the HSE that the public want Midoc services returned to Birr & Edenderry and that is what I united with other public representatives will continue to seek".
See page 10 for a full report on last week's public meeting in about about the closure.


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