Serious manpower issues that continue to affect Fermoy Community Hospital have been raised with the Minister of State for Health, Catherine Byrne during a recent Topical Issues debate in the Dáil.

Following this, Fianna Fáil TD for Cork East, Kevin O’Keeffe has said that he is 'dismayed' at the approach being taken by the HSE and the Government towards the lack of medical staff at Fermoy Community Hospital.

O’Keefe said he has been raising these issues for well over 12 months, and stressed that recently, they seem to have gotten worse.

“Staffing seems to be a major problem for the management at the hospital. At present, there is no medical officer at the hospital, and this is serious concern for me," O'Keeffe said, pointing out that here are 72 beds at the hospital, and it is generally at full occupancy at all times. A full time, permanent medical officer is an absolute necessity, according to Deputy O'Keeffe.

“The last Fianna Fáil government invested considerable resources into making Fermoy Community Hospital into one of the most respected long-term care facilities. In her reply to me, Minister Byrne couldn’t even get the number of the days in the week right."

Deputy O'Keeffe said the Minister was aware that three local GP surgeries were providing medical cover for five out of seven days, yet he claims, she was 'oblivious' to the need to have cover for the remainder of the week.

“I don’t believe that it’s safe for the hospital not to have full time medical cover, across the whole week. Last week’s debate proved that this government is very good at analysing the problems in our health service, but are incapable of coming up with any solutions. Nothing new came from the Minister’s response, and that is worrying.

“I pointed out that there is a SouthDoc facility just 50 metres down the road from the hospital. Surely, medical cover could be sourced for the remaining two days of the week until a full time medical officer can be recruited and put in place. We need smarter thinking from the HSE, otherwise nothing will ever change,” concluded Mr O’Keeffe.