According to the Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly, TD. Saint Patricks Hospital will continue to play a significant role in the provision of public long and short stay care for older people within the South Tipperary Health Services.
The Ministers written response was in relation to a letter sent by Mayor Maribel Wood expressing her concerns at the serious effect the moratorium on recruitment was having on a daily basis and its effects on the morale of staff.
The minister says, “The HSE has some flexibility in relation to filling posts in order to protect front line services, in so far as possible, while still achieving the required staff reduction targets. In addition, the Public Service Agreement allows the HSE to redeploy staff based on service need. Nevertheless, the overall target reduction in numbers must be met, which means that exceptions to the moratorium must be kept to a minimum.”
According to the Minister the Government is determined that, in line with its commitment to reduce the size of the public service, health sector employment numbers must be reduced to approximately 102,100 in 2012. He acknowledges the challenge of providing a safe and sustainable service in the public residential units for older people while at the same time taking into account the number of staff retiring, the moratorium and the need for compliance with HIQA standards and says,” its HSE priority to sustain the maximum number of beds in all of its older people facilities”.
In relation to Saint Patrick’s Hospital, he advises Councillor Wood that local management is engaged in ongoing dialogue with staff representatives in order to ensure that adequate staffing arrangements are in place to provide safe and effective services capable of delivering the required high standard of care.
While accepting the Ministers reply at face value, Mayor Maribel Wood says that a combination of further retirements and an embargo will result in a reduction of beds and services and from past experience she is concerned that the HSE will use this excuse as a stealth measure to achieve a hidden agenda with less beds for a growing aging population.