St Luke’s has served the nation for over 50 years – no scandals – no MRSA – no misdiagnosis – only praise. This month it has been praised for a pioneering operation to remove a cancerous eye tumour.
St Luke’s has state of the art equipment and facilities thanks to fundraising by the Friends of St Luke’s (a separate entity – a charitable company limited by guarantee). The Friends of St Luke’s have done sterling work raising some €26 million in funds for the hospital over the years. The Friends are based in the hospital.
St Luke’s is publicly funded but was not run by the HSE until 1 August 2010 when the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2010 came into effect.
In 2003 the Hollywood Committee was set up to review oncology services in Ireland. It recommended eight ‘centres of excellence’.
Six experts advised Minister Harney on the choice of the centre for the Eastern Region South, the area in which St Luke’s is located. Three were Irish public servants and three were medical professionals based outside the state.
Inexplicably the experts gave the Luke’s submission very poor marks, and James’s received the highest marks. Two other hospitals also competed. Minister Harney accepted the experts’ recommendation. Patients were NOT consulted in the process. We say patients are also ‘experts.’ We also say, in good faith, experts can differ.
The Campaign Starts
In 2006 Joe Guilfoyle, a Luke’s patient, set up the Save St Luke’s Campaign. Over the past few years the Campaign collected 150,000 signatures from all over Ireland on a petition to save St Luke’s. There was much lobbying and two marches were held in Dublin. The petition was handed over to Ruairi Quinn (ex Luke’s patient) at a picket on the Dail on June 30 and he passed it to Minister Harney’s office.
Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2010
This May, Minister Harney rushed a bill through the Dail which contained a section handing over St Luke’s to the HSE who would close it in 2014. Despite intensive lobbying, a Labour amendment, which would have saved the hospital, was defeated by 4 votes in the Dail and in the Seanad because the Green Party’s six TDs backed closure.
Our Mission Statement
The Save St Luke’s Campaign considers that St Luke’s should continue as a satellite of the new cancer unit at St James’ which is due to open December 2010. The fifty per cent increase in projected cancer cases by 2020 since the original decision to close back in 2005 makes this the only logical thing to do. There were almost 31,500 new cancer cases in 2009 (National Cancer Registry).
The Minister insists her cancer strategy is about best practice and best outcomes for patients. She has never consulted patients and has ignored their representations.
She now has the power to sell the valuable 18 acre site in Rathgar. She has said it will be used for ‘health’ purposes.