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Protesters bid to save Loughlinstown emergency department

Emergency 24-hour care at the hospital is due to be suspended, in the same way as in Roscommon.

Protesters in Loughlinstown earlier this year
Protesters in Loughlinstown earlier this year
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

PROTESTERS GATHERED IN south county Dublin today in an attempt to avoid reductions in emergency department services at Loughlinstown hospital.

The 24-hour emergency department at St Colmcille’s Hospital is due to be shuttered as part of an HSE reorganisation that has already seen the controversial closure of similar services at Roscommon hospital.

Around two hundred people gathered at St Anne’s Church in the town today before marching to the hospital, according to one person present.

Under the new plans, emergency patients will be diverted to St Vincent’s hospital in south Dublin city. However, campaigners argue that Vincent’s is already overstretched and cannot cope with the extra burden.

They also said many people come to Loughlinstown from as far away as Wexford, and closing the emergency department would leave those patients significantly further from care.

People Before Profit councillor Hugh Lewis, who attended today’s protest, said: “There’s 21,000 people go to Loughlinstown every year, and the solution the Government is proposing is to reroute them to St Vincent’s. But Vincent’s is hugely underresourced.”

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He said at present, some patients are re-routed in the other direction from St Vincent’s to Loughlinstown when Vincent’s is at full capacity. The protests will continue until they see results, he added.

“We’ve seen the example in Roscommon where people have resisted the cuts, and we’ve mobilised too,” he said. “People in Portlaoise found out this week that they’ll be keeping their 24-hour status. So that makes us hopeful.”

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Michael Freeman

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