Conditions at Nenagh Hospital have been defended following a highly critical report on the general medical facility by Hiqa. The health body’s inspectors made an unannounced visit to Nenagh on September 5 and found that the environment and equipment in Medical 1, a male ward and Medical 2 ward, a female ward, were “generally unclean” with a subsequent risk of hospital-based infections
The findings led to clashes at this Monday’s North Tipperary County Council meeting with Cllr Jim Casey claiming Junior Minister Alan Kelly, the former PRO of Nenagh Hospital Action Group, had led protest marches in the town previously but since he became a Junior Minister had gone silent on Nenagh Hospital.
The Hiqa inspectors reported that a culture of hand hygiene practice was not embedded among all staff, that some sinks designated for hand washing were unclean with a black “mould-like substance” on one.
They also found Medical Ward 1 had wall surfaces with large areas of paint missing and a sink beside an exposed, crumbling wall surface was beside a patient’s bed.
They also found an unlocked storage unit in Medical 2 contained needles, syringes and oral medications, while damaged coverings in Medical 1 hindered effective cleaning while the ward.
According to their report, the surface of a patient temperature monitoring device was unclean and there was a piece of soiled dressing tape on the surface of the device.
They also reported finding a sticky residue the surface of an intravenous pump in the nurses’ station, as well as grit and rust around the area over the wheels of dressing trolleys.
The hospital’s management have been given six weeks to produce a report on improvement plans.
Meanwhile, Cllr Casey told the council meeting: “I joined Alan Kelly and his friends on marches from the hospital to Banba Square but they seem to have gone underground after the last election.”
He described the report as “embarrassing for all of us”.
Cllr Casey called on the council to write to Deputy Kelly to deliver funding for the hospital.
He was supported by Cllr Seamus Hanafin and Cllr John Carroll, who outlined all the services that had been lost to Nenagh over the past two years, including the the loss of 20 staff and the relocation of the lab service.
However, defending Deputy Kelly, Cllr Virginia O’Dowd claimed Cllr Casey found the Labour Junior Minister a “thorn in his side” because he had delivered extra services for the hospital.
She also pointed out that the report failed to take into account the fact that the hospital was a building site at the moment and that “95 per cent of the faults were structural”.
Cllr Casey told her “not to be sucking up to Alan Kelly”.
She was supported by Mayor Ger Darcy and Cllr Seamus Morris, who claimed Hiqa had an agenda and had looked for dust under trolleys and beds.
Junior Minister Kelly said in a statement that having met management last Friday, he was “absolutely convinced that all issues will be addressed. Indeed I saw evidence of some of this work myself on my visit.”
He defended services and staff at the hospital and revealed that there were plans to introduce pre-operation assessment clinics; new minor operation procedure room; a new clinical room in the medical ward; further rheumatology services; sleep studies and further dermatology services
“Nenagh hospital has a very bright future and one report like this, while needing to be addressed, should not take away from the great work the hospital and its staff are doing,” he said.
Deputy Kelly rejected claims he’s turned his back on efforts to upgrade Nenagh General Hospital once he acquired ministerial status.
He insisted he had continued to push for upgrade works for Nenagh at both Government and HSE level and branded attacks on him as “pointless political point scoring”.