Once again, I wish to raise the issue of the Dean Maxwell Community Nursing Unit in Roscrea. I have raised this issue on numerous occasions with Ministers in the Department of Health and with the Taoiseach, both publicly and privately. I will not give up on the fight to maintain long-stay care for the elderly people of Roscrea. The people of Roscrea deserve the security and comfort of knowing that their own and their family members’ lives can be lived out in their own town. This has been the case for generations.
As I speak, a group of elderly people are worried and anxious about what the future holds for them. Older men and women are being reduced to tears of despair at the thought that the place they call home will be snatched away from them. They are troubled and unsettled at the idea of being moved to a different town, to a place that is some 20 miles away from family and friends and will end lifelong connection with their home town.
Loyal and committed staff have been kept in the dark. The HR department has convened a meeting of staff for next Wednesday, presumably to advise them on their options of redeployment. The voices of these people have remained unheard since all of this began. They have no desire to move to a unit in Nenagh. The voices of those who have spoken out for Dean Maxwell and petitioned their case feel ignored and abandoned. They are now ready to take to the streets and protest in solidarity with the patients and staff of Dean Maxwell.
The Government and the HSE will see true community spirit and the fierce loyalty Roscrea is renowned for. The people are united in defiance of this HSE plan. We have been through all the glib explanations and excuses. The truth is that the 25 long-stay beds were covertly transferred from Roscrea to justify the building of a new 50-bed nursing home unit in Nenagh. The elderly patients from Roscrea were just used to make up the numbers. The human cost was irrelevant.
The HSE has never engaged in a transparent fashion. Queries were met with evasive responses. The HSE stonewalled approaches for information and refused point-blank to admit the true position. The HSE has been implementing a policy of closure by stealth. It had neither the courage nor the honesty to admit it.
We have one last opportunity to redeem the future of Dean Maxwell. It can only be saved through political intervention and political direction. I am requesting the Taoiseach make a personal intervention to remedy this injustice. I suggest that the Taoiseach, the Minister for Health, Deputy Donnelly, and the Minister of State, Deputy Butler, would meet with the representatives of the local action group. At that meeting, the local committee will outline the footprint of an alternative viable proposal to protect and enhance services and supports for the elderly population of Roscrea.