March against hospital downgrade draws 3,000
on 25/02/2013 00:00:00
Up to 3,000 marched to The Mall in Waterford City on Saturday, 105 days after another march attracted more than 12,000 people last October, while over 1,000 attended a candlelit vigil at the hospital itself in December.
The march was organised by the Save Waterford lobby group, which was set up last year by local women Andrea Galgey and Gillian Sauvage-Corcoran.
"If this downgrading does happen and James Reilly goes ahead with his report, we'll be driven by ambulance to hospitals in Cork and Dublin in future," said Ms Galgey. "We just can't lose any more services."
Chairman of the hospital's medical board, surgeon Joe O'Beirne, said the "moment of truth" was approaching.
"Our region has suffered enough and now the Government is being presented with this outrageous idea to pretend the region doesn't exist."
Ms Sauvage-Corcoran said: "We all hope this will be the last time we have to gather under these circumstances for our hospital."
The youngest speaker was Tadhg Williams, 14, who is secretary of Waterford Comhairle na nÓg and who said the young people of the region had to be represented and given a voice. "If this downgrade goes ahead, it will be the youth of Waterford who will suffer."
The report of an expert group chaired by Prof John Higgins of UCC is expected to come under scrutiny by the Government this week.
It is believed one of its recommendations is to break up the South-East's hospital network.