St Columcille's Hospital in Loughlinstown, Dublin will shortly lose its 24-hour A&E service under plans drawn up by the HSE.
The plans involve the conversion of the current 24-hour A&E service at the south Dublin hospital, which currently accepts major and complex emergency cases, to a minor injuries unit operating only during the daytime as a satellite unit in the local emergency service.
The closure, when implemented, means that there will be no major A&E service available in a geographical line from Wexford Town to St Vincent's Hospital on the southside of Dublin city.
According to a recent update on the future of services at smaller hospitals around the country given by the HSE to the safety body HIQA, it is planned to downgrade the Loughlinstown A&E to a daytime minor injury unit during 2011, although a specific date is not mentioned in the report.
The HSE's report to HIQA states that the cessation of accepting major or complex emergency cases at St Columcille's is to be agreed with St Vincent's as part of a reconfiguration process.
The HSE plan also indicates that Loughlinstown, which has 133 beds, will at some stage in the near future cease acute inpatient surgery, but it will continue to perform some planned, non-emergency surgery.
The report is part of an update given to HIQA on the future provision of major A&E and acute services at smaller hospitals, after HIQA had raised safety concerns about the continuation of these services in some hospitals in the wake of the publication of its reviews of services at Ennis and Mallow hospitals.
Asked for further information on exactly when A&E and acute surgical services will be curtailed at St Columcille's and which services would continue there, the HSE refused to be drawn on the details.
A spokesperson told irishhealth.com :"St Columcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown, is an important integral part of the joint acute hospital service operated between St Vincent's, St Michael's (Dun Laoghaire) and St Columcille's for the local population."
The HSE said there was no date set for the cessation of any current services at St Columcille's.
"Hospital management continues to engage with colleagues in Dublin south with a view to configuring acute hospital services along the lines of the national acute medicine programme."
St Columcille's had 21,077 emergency department attendances last year and 3,628 admissions through A&E.
To date the HSE has reconfigured acute and A&E services in the north-east and mid-west of the country, which has involved the curtailment of these services at smaller hospitals in these regions.
It is currently in the process of reconfiguring acute hospital services along these lines in Cork and Kerry.
So St Vincent's is going to be overloaded again?