I raise the important issue of the closure of the casualty department in Our Lady's Hospital, Manorhamilton, County Leitrim. It is ironic on the day after the health strategy was announced with great fanfare that the issue I must raise is not the downgrading but the closure of the casualty department of the only general hospital in County Leitrim.
The staff of Our Lady's Hospital have provided an excellent service to the people of north Leitrim over many years. Many doctors, nurses and other medical staff have worked tirelessly in this department of the hospital giving professional care. I want to know who has made the decision to close the casualty unit in this hospital. Was the decision made because the Government is not willing to provide the necessary funding to the North-Western Health Board to continue this important service? The decision to close the casualty unit will put the lives of many people in the north Leitrim area at risk. It is a serious problem which should not be allowed to occur by any health board or Government. It is not good enough.
Why should the people of Leitrim not receive the same service as the people in any other part of the country? This closure will have serious consequences for the health strategy being pursued by the Government. I raised this issue by way of parliamentary question on 25 October but I have not received a reply from the North-Western Health Board. The Minister's reply stated that the chief executive of the health board would investigate the position and would reply to me but, as of this date, I have not received a reply. That is not good enough. This issue is very serious and is not being treated with due urgency by the Department or the health board.
I ask the Minister to provide the necessary funding immediately to the health board if that is what is required to reopen a fully staffed casualty department in Our Lady's Hospital, Manorhamilton, and to provide the service to the people of north Leitrim in particular they are entitled to.