A meeting with HSE management in Tullamore is planned for tomorrow morning, Tuesday, in a bid to reverse the closures of the Midoc out-of-hours GP services in Birr and Edenderry.
The decision to close the out-of-hours service in both towns was taken by the HSE on Monday, with news of the service closures slowly filtering out to the wider community on Tuesday and Wedesday, culminating in a public meeting in Dooley's Hotel in Birr on Wednesday night.
Over 250 people were in attendance at the meeting, with Cllr Peter Ormond saying that everyone spoke with one voice.
"It was a very positive meeting, it was attended by the five local representatives and our three Oireachtas members, and people in the room had a chance to air their views, which was to find a solution to this problem and essentially have the decision reversed by the HSE.
"We will be meeting with HSE management on Tuesday morning in Tullamore and we are hopeful that this decision can be reversed."
It has prompted the call for a primary healthcare centre to be located in Birr.
"In the short-term we need to get the out-of-hours service reinstated, but in the long term it has shown the need for a focus on community healthcare and there is a need for a primary care centre in Birr," commented Cllr John Clendennen.
The decision to close Birr and Edenderry Midoc services, and instead, have one fully functioning treatment centre based in the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore, has shocked and angered communities at both ends of the county.
At Wednesday’s meeting of Edenderry Municipal District, councillors also took the decision to seek an immediate meeting with the HSE.
“We will also be sending a strongly worded letter to the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to see if he will meet with local representative in a bid to reverse these closures,” Cathaoirleach of Edenderry Municipal District, Cllr Noel Bourke told the Offaly Independent.
"Nobody was consulted about this, the first we heard of it was on social media, and eventually I received an email from the HSE late on Wednesday evening telling us what we already knew. The fact that there was no prior notice of this just beggars belief,” he said.
Cllr Noel Cribbin said for people in Edenderry, the Midoc closure meant a round-trip of up to 80kms to visit Tullamore, and with a population of 7,000, the HSE decision was “unacceptable”.