The Hospital of the Assumption in Thurles has been stumped by the Health Service Executive (HSE) decision to close 22 beds and let go sixteen agency nurses, despite the fact that the state-of-the-art facility is one of the few in the Mid West region which is operating within it’s budgets.
News of the bed closures were relayed to dumbfounded staff this week - only three weeks after the HSE had told The Tipperary Star that no decision had been made in relation to the hospital - with the net affect being that sections of the ultra modern hospital will lie empty, despite the huge patient demand for care. It means that the capacity at the hospital has been cut from seventy two when it opened four years ago, to forty five. A further six short stay beds are to close in the Dean Maxwell Community Care Home in Roscrea also while The Tipperary Star understands that the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA) are this week carrying our inspections in St Conlon’s in Nenagh.
A stormy meeting of the HSE, departmental officials and public representatives in Limerick on Tuesday morning failed to gain any ground on the initial announcement, and with the severe public backlash has come the process of apportioning blame with Deputies Noel Coonan and Michael Lowry engaging in verbal warfare, while Minister Alan Kelly tried to distance himself from the shrapnel and called for a united front going forward.
The HSE in the Midwest was €20 million in excess of its allocated budget at the end of June 2011 and one of the measures implemented to deal with this issue is a reduction in the use of agency staff and overtime across all health and hospital facilities and services in the Midwest.
“We cannot continue to provide agency and overtime as a means of replacing staff in a moratorium controlled environment where we simply do not have the funding to do so. The reduction in the use of agency and overtime to replace staff who have left the service and cannot be replaced has an inevitable impact on the number of beds the HSE can safely staff,” the HSE said this week.
See full story in this week’s Tipperary Star