Updated :: The Sligo-based Save Our Cancer Services-NW committee have been unexpectedly invited to a meeting this morning by Fine Gael.
The invitation came in a one-line email from the government political party at the weekend.
The meeting, scheduled for 10am this morning (Monday) will take place in
the Sligo town office of Sligo/Nth Leitrim TD Tony McLoughlin.
No information whatsoever has been released regarding the agenda of the
meeting or who from the party or government representatives will attend.
The meeting comes on the 34th day of a 62-day countdown (see News Ticker
on Front/Home Page) to the latest promise given, this time by Deputy
McLoughlin who confirmed last month that the Mammography Services would
be returned to Sligo General Hospital from Galway within two months. See SligoToday.ie 25/5/12
Mr McLoughlin had informed the Cancer Services campaigners of the good
news however within days his government coalition partner representative
Senator Susan O'Keeffe dashed the campaigner's fresh hopes by
announcing that the radiographers had yet to be recruited and that the
existing mammography equipment would have to be replaced at a cost of
over €200,000. See SligoToday.ie 29/5/12
One campaigner contacted this weekend was astounded that SligoToday.ie
knew of the meeting said, "I do not know what the meeting is about. I
believe the steering committee were told nothing about it, they were
just asked if they would attend, which they are.To tell you the truth
I'm not expecting good news."
A Fine Gael source said he was not sure what the purpose of the hastily
arranged meeting is "however I know that the party are not happy with
all the media negativity over the cancer problem in Sligo. I would say
this is between the HSE and the local TDs."
SligoToday.ie will publish a full report on the outcome of the meeting later this morning.
Update: The meeting concluded at 11.15am between the members of the SOCS committee and Deputy McLoughlin who was a accompanied by Cll Enda McGloin, PA to the Deputy.
It would appear that the meeting ended with no major new news being disclosed on the return of cancer services from Galway to SGH.
The meeting was purely an informational exercise to explain what correspondence and dialogue Deputy McLoughlin had entered into with the Minister of Health, Dr James Reilly. The committe members did not consider the meeting very worthwhile.
The principal trust of the meeting was on the return of mammography services to SGH which the committee now believe will not happen within the earlier timeframe outlined last month by Deputy McLoughlin.
At today's meeting Mr McLoughlin would appeared to have concurred with Senator Susan O'Keeffe's assertion that staff had to be recruited and new machinery purchased by the HSE.
The delegation asked Deputy McLoughlin to ask the minister to confirm, in writing, his intentions regarding the restoration of the Sligo cancer services. They also said they were happy with the new appointment in Galway of Mr Bill Meagher, an appointee of the minister, who is to be the minister's 'eyes and ears' in all matters relating to the current situation.
Later, Deputy McLoughlin told SligoToday.ie that he convened the meeting in answer to a recent communication from the campaigning group and to give them an update on what was happening.
Whist accepting that there were a couple of unanswered quesions, Mr McLoughlin confirmed that he would be in contact with Minister Reilly this week to seek to have the questions answered.
Regarding the return of the mammography services, Mr McLoughlin still believes that the minister's timeline of two months is still achievable. He added, "I'm going on good faith with what the minister told me."
The deputy confirmed that if a new machine was needed the funding was already in place for such an eventually.
"I am very anxious and committed to ensure that mammography is returned to Sligo General Hospital," concluded Mr McLoughlin.
Update 16.02 In the past few moments a summary has been issued by the Save Our Cancer Services steering committe: it is as follows;
1) Cancer Services
Earlier in the year Minister Reilly committed to making a final decision on this matter by “early summer”. The Minister has given no indication so far as to what decision he has arrived at. The campaign committee sought a written update, signed by the Minister, on this matter. The campaign members again took the opportunity to impress on members of Fine Gael the critical importance to maintain Sligo General Hospital (SGH) as a regional hospital delivering the widest possible range of services for the region. The removal of services is seen as a downgrading of the facility and this, along with denying local access to vital services, will have a seriously negative impact on the region generally. It will be next to impossible to attract inward investment to an area that cannot provide health services locally.
2) Restoration of mammography services to Sligo General Hospital.
The meeting was informed that the government commitment to restore this service remains a priority. Actions are in hand to resolve matters that are currently delaying the restoration of the service. The appointment, by Minister Reilly, of Mr Bill Maher to the position of General Manager, University Hospital Galway is regarded as significant in that Mr Maher has been clearly briefed on the Minister's wishes in this regard and it is expected that the restoration with be expedited in coming weeks. Tony McLoughlin TD has written to Mr Maher to arrange for a meeting to discuss issues relevant to SGH. The commitment to restore the service “within 2 months” given 4 weeks ago is on track and it is expected that this deadline will be met.
3) Colonoscopy Screening designation.
The designation of SGH as a centre for colonoscopy screening was raised and confirmation sought regarding John Perry’s commitment that this would happen early this year. An update will be sought and conveyed on receipt of same.
The campaign committee sought written confirmation from the Minister on all matters. In addition, a request was again made to arrange a meeting with the Minister so that all these matters can be clarified. A letter from local Fine Gael with this request will be sent to the Minister this week.