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Dublin Opinion >>
Harney moves to close St Luke's ahead of schedule?
Sunday November 07, 2010 17:50 by Enid - Save St Luke's Cancer Hospital Campaign savestlukes at eircom dot net
Luke's campaigners can't get answers
Though St Luke's isn't due to close until 2014, rumours persist that the sale of the 18 acre site in Rathgar is under negotiation to a developer with adjacent land.
HARNEY MOVES TO CLOSE ST LUKE’S AHEAD OF SCHEDULE?
In the week that saw the publication of a controversial new book Cancer in a Cold Climate: the Shafting of St Luke’s Hospital, Joe Guilfoyle, Chairman of the Save St Luke’s Campaign says he is concerned that the deadline for closure, officially 2014, has been brought forward.
‘We have heard that Junior Minister for Health John Moloney has claimed that St Luke’s is as good as sold. Apparently a developer owning land adjacent to St Luke’s is in negotiations for the 18 acre Luke’s site. We have also heard that significant services will be moved from Luke’s by the end of the year and that some staff were offered redundancy back in the summer, when the official line was that there were jobs for all at the new cancer centre at James’s.
He continued, ‘we asked St Luke’s for an official response to these rumours but have heard nothing from management. This makes us worry that there is substantial truth in them. After all, the political situation is volatile, and the opposition parties are committed to saving St Luke’s.’
The book, written by Campaign PRO Enid O’Dowd, tells how ‘experts’ gave inexplicably low marks to the leafy 18 acre site in Rathgar, and how a key expert report supporting St Luke’s never made the Ministers’ desk. Patients and family members tell their Luke’s stories in their own words, and say why Luke’s should not be closed.
Luke’s death warrant was signed this summer when Minister Harney rushed a bill through the Dail to close it – but TDs and senators were not told that the new cancer unit replacing Luke’s was merely an outpatient centre with no catering for patients.
O’Dowd says ‘Luke’s has 179 beds including 20 day beds so politicians in fact voted to take a significant number of cancer beds out of the public health system at a time when cancer cases are increasing.’
She continued, ‘Minister Harney said the decision to close Luke’s was based on best practice, but since when did best practice means no beds and no food? There are – apparently – 12 dedicated cancer beds somewhere in the main hospital.’
The Bill was passed by only 4 votes.
‘Minister John Gormley, who is a Local TD, was on record as supporting the retention of St Luke’s yet neither he nor any of the Green TDs attended the final debate. Minister Gormley merely led them in to vote to close the hospital. I cannot understand why he did this. Supporting the Labour amendment to save the hospital would not have caused a general election.’
‘We hope the rumours are not true, but we always felt the decision to close was about the valuable site.’
The book has an introduction written by Ulick O’Connor who lives by Luke’s Hospital. It can be ordered online from the publishers www.originalwriting.ie. Eason’s will be distributing it to their usual outlets.
The Save St Luke’s Campaign can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
More information: Enid O’Dowd 087 2319056
Joe Guilfoyle 087 7937201