A NEW threat to close a vital care unit for the elderly in Cashel has emerged, it was announced at this month’s meeting of South Tipperary County Council.
Cashel Councillor Tom Wood is seeking an urgent meeting with HSE personnel to discuss concerns at the “serious reduction” in staffing levels at Saint Patrick’s Hospital, “and the closure threat hanging over the 23 bedded unit, St Clares Unit.”
Cllr Wood said it came as a “great shock in the last few weeks” to learn of staff reductions taking place in Saint Patricks. Because of a moratorium in recruitment, many positions are not being replaced as employees retire. “St Patricks caters for 145 people from a wider area. It’s a great rehabilitation unit. It’s the envy of other hospitals around the country.”
Cllr Wood said about 20 positions which had been permanent, are now vacant, while more retirements are pending. “There are highly skilled people knocking on the door of St Patricks at the moment. The work the staff do there is above and beyond the call of duty.”
Cllr Wood said there was a “cloud of uncertainty” regarding the future viability of St Clares Unit. “The HSE just squeezes the life out of the situation. It calls into question the viability of St Patricks. There is a hidden agenda, by stealth, to remove those services.”
Cllr Louise McLoughlin said she “strongly opposed” any downgrading of St Patricks. Cllr McLoughlin said she had met a lady last week for whom it would be “impossible” to give the same care to, without St Patricks. “We should write a letter to the Minister about this,” she told the meeting. Cllr Joe Brennan said the unit concerned “reaches far and beyond Cashel.” It was vital for people who had suffered a stroke, or an accident, he said.
Cllr Pat English said: “We’ve all family members who have stayed there. This seems to be a habit of the HSE. All of the elderly people there are taxpayers. And they deserve this care in their twilight years.”
At a meeting of Cashel Town Council, Mayor Maribel Wood also backed a motion regarding St Clare’s Unit. “That hospital is a wonder,” she told Councillors. Non replacement of staff will place a “huge strain” on remaining staff members, said Mayor Wood. Cllr Martin Browne (SF) called on the HSE to clarify its position on the 23 beds. “First it’s 23 beds, then 43.”