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Death Knell for Passage West Health Centre?

Death Knell for Passage West Health Centre? Writes Leo McMahon

Shock turned to anger at Monday’s meeting of Cork County Council’s Carrigaline-Ballincollig Municipal District (MD) concerning a letter from the Health Service Executive (HSE) announcing that services provided at the clinic in Beach Road, Passage West are due to be relocated to the new Primary Care Centre in Carrigaline later this year.

In response to a call from Cllr. Michael Frick Murphy (SF) and fellow members at their July meeting, requesting services be retained in Passage West, head of service in primary care with the HSE in Cork and Kerry, Ms. Teresa O’Donovan wrote that the new purpose built Primary Care Centre in Carrigaline was due to open towards the end of 2017 and would provide primary care services to the people of Carrigaline and surrounding area, including Passage West.

‘The building will replace existing health centres in the area (including Passage West) which are no longer fit for use. Staff presently based in these locations will relocate to the new building and will be joined by other professionals such as community dentists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists who up to now did not have an appropriate environment to assess and treat local people.

‘The building from which health services are delivered in Passage West, is in a deteriorating condition, which makes same unsuitable for continued delivery of clinical care’, Ms. O’Donovan added.

Cllr. Murphy said he would like to know who in the HSE declared the building unfit because it was obvious money had been spent on new flooring and improving the exterior of a premises which had served the people of Passage West very well for decades.

‘This response strikes the death knell on the health centre in Passage West’, commented Cllr Seamus McGrath (FF) who noted a similar response had recently been received by his brother Michael McGrath TD.

‘There’s nothing in the letter to indicate that the HSE looked at alternative premises in the town so it’s extremely worrying that it does appear that the centre is being wound down. That is not good enough for the people of Passage West, particularly when there isn’t even a transport link to and from Carrigaline but even if there was, it wouldn’t be a good enough reason to close it because there is a sufficient population base in the town and surrounding areas to cater for health services.

Cllr. McGrath suggested the MD get back to the HSE saying it was totally unacceptable.

Cllr. Marcia D’Alton (Ind) agreed. Prior to the previous meeting, the HSE had indicated to her that while it intended closing the health centre at Beach Road it was looking for an alternative, although not a replacement premises, to provide essential things, such as dressings for people who couldn’t travel. She fully concurred that it wasn’t acceptable to transfer all health services out of Passage West and would like to know what the HSE intended doing with the building in Beach Road.

Cathaoirleach Mary Rose Desmond (FF) added her support to the original call by Cllr. Murphy for the health centre to be retained. At a time when they were talking about rejuvenating Passage West, pressure needed to be put on a stakeholder such as the HSE not to remove such an important resource.

Recalling that Cllr. Murphy raised the issue based on rumours in the town, Cllr. McGrath said it was disgraceful that a decision on a long-standing service could be taken behind closed doors without consultation or communication out of courtesy to the people of Passage West and asked that this point be made in a strongly worded letter back to the HSE.

Concluding, Cllr. Murphy said he recently met an elderly lady from the locality leaving the clinic at Beach Road who got a taxi to and from it so for her to make her journey in the future all the way to Carrigaline and back would be a disgrace. It was unanimously agreed to write to the HSE requesting retention of health services in Passage West.

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