Arranmore island residents have reacted with outrage to Health Service Executive plans to redeploy the island’s public-health nurse.
More than 160 islanders attended an emergency meeting at the island’s community centre Saturday night, in response to HSE plans to replace the public-health nurse on the island with a part-time community nurse, starting this week. An newly formed action group is seeking meetings with TDs and the HSE, and enlisting the support of the island diaspora in an online campaign.
“We resolved that we’re not going to take this lying down,” said Jerry Early, chairperson of Comharchumann Oileán Árainn Mhór, the island’s development co-op. He said Arranmore has had 107 years of public health service on the island.
The community want clarity from the HSE on their long-term plans for the service. Mr. Early said that if the full-time nurse were to be redeployed to the mainland for a period of two or three weeks, islanders could accept that. However, he said, islanders would not support plans to replace the nurse permanently with a part-time community nurse. And he said they have not been able to get a commitment from the HSE on when the full-time nurse would return.
Mr. Early said islanders were tired of being treated like second-class citizens. “Enough’s enough,” he said. “We’re sick of being the same old easy target, and it’s not going to happen anymore.”
Former councillor Seamus Rodgers raised islanders’ concerns at last week’s Islands Committee meeting. “It’s an essential service for the island,” he said.
A concerned islander said that even the out-of-hours NowDoc is at least an hour away, “and when someone is seriously ill, that’s not on.
“I think we’re as much entitled as any body on the island of Ireland to proper health care,” she said.
“Not only are the people on the island outraged, but the whole diaspora of the island are outraged,” Mr. Early said, adding that island emigrants are concerned for their older relations on Arranmore. More than half of the current population of about 460 is age 60 or older.
“If the HSE or health board think they’re going to walk over the people of Arranmore any longer, well they’re in for the biggest rude awakening they’ve ever had,” he said.