A Health Service Executive plan to rollout a further 19 elderly care beds in North Tipperary to bring the total number to 104 has been described this week as having ‘no concrete basis’ and ‘ mere spin’, The Tipperary Star can reveal.
Following on Health Minister James O’Reilly’s “amnesia” on the commitment he gave to restore 22 respite beds to the Community Hospital of the Assumption - a commitment echoed by Government supporting public representatives, but not backed up - the Thurles based hospital will be boosted, the HSE says, by the return of five beds, bringing it’s total to 50. However, four of these beds are already being maintained thanks to co-operation of staff in the hospital and there is still almost half the ultra-modern hospital lying idle while waiting lists grow longer.
According to the HSE there will also be seven extra beds in the Dean Maxwell Unit in Roscrea and in St Conlon’s in Nenagh as the organisation attempts to “completely re-work how current resources are used.” Seven additional nursing posts have been added and the plan is to up-grade St Conlons in Nenagh to a 27 bed unit; Dean Maxwell Home in Roscrea to a 27 bed facility; and the Community Hospital of the Assumption to a 50 bed facility. The HSE is affectively engaging in “a management merger” to bring the three units into one, rather than making any real investment in elderly care in North Tipp.
Deputy Michael Lowry attended the meeting with the HSE on Monday morning and said that he is “hugely disappointed with the outcome.”
“ I fully understand and appreciate the containts and pressure the HSE executives are working under, but they told us quite bluntly that there are no further funds available to them and what they are hoping to do between the three sites is to re-open a minimum of 8 and maximum of 12 beds. They would do that by way of redeployment of existing staff in the service - a management merger if you like. The three units will now be combined and act as one single service. By combining the personnel they have in the three centres they hope to be able to have the flexibility to re-open the beds in the units. That is totally unsatisfactory because it leaves us with 18 beds closed in the Hospital of the Assumption and we were told not to have any expectation of an improvement on that,” Deputy Lowry told The Tipperary Star this week.
He added that the news “falls far short” of the promise made by the Minister back in November and of the expectations of the public.
“We are under enormous pressure to provide beds for respite and rehab. We lost 22 beds but by the co-operation and goodwill of the Hospital of the Assumption staff, we managed to keep four open. So what the HSE is saying is that they will sustain those beds for the rest of the year. We now have to work with the HSE and see if we can rebuild those beds over the remaining time. The response is totally inadequate and is mere spin as far as I am concerned,” Deputy Lowry said.
However Minister Alan Kelly who also was present at the meeting had a different take on proceedings and described it as a very good one.
“ As a result of the recruitment of 7 people into North Tipperary, which I pressed for, and changes being brought about by the HSE team in the Hospital of the Assumption and the wider North Tipperary, the HSE are now confident that a number of beds will be re-opened in a sustainable way in the near future. The plan is to get to a floor of 50 beds in the near future, which is an increase from 45.