The Abbeyleix Hospital Action Group have planned a monster march for later this month in protest against the attitude of the HSE.
“We have tried to negotiate but the feeling is that we are not being taken seriously. The general feeling among the committee is that we are being taken for complete fools.
“They are telling is one thing and doing another thing. We now have no confidence in their ability to sort this out. We feel they are talking through both sides of their mouth,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
Following the HSE’s announcement that Abbeyleix Community Nursing Home was to close, over 5,000 people took to the streets to voice their anger and concern.
But Mr O’Keeffe expects the next march on Sunday, April 29 to be bigger again.
“The likes of this will never have been seen before. From the far end of Borris-in-Ossory to Graiguecullen, we are going to pull every single parish out on to the streets on April 29.”
“We’ve been banging our heads of the walls for the last few months,” Mr O’Keeffe added.
He also claimed that the HSE had reneged on commitments made to the Action Committee.
“We’ve looked at getting the respite beds filled in the hospital which would save the state €21,000, the HSE gave a commitment to do this but they are continually moving and changing their position. There is no financial justification for closing Abbeyleix so there must be some other reason.”
The HSE said that admissions to all community nursing units within the Midlands was restricted from summer 2011 to ensure that there would be adequate staff available to care for residents in situ following the retirement of staff in February of this year.
“In March 2012, discussions then took place with relevant Directors of Nursing to consider whether they had the capacity, to admit new residents. In such considerations the Directors of Nursing had to consider their actual post retirement staffing levels and in particular the level of accrued annual leave, the level of accrued time off in lieu and the necessity to reduce and eliminate (as the case may be) agency staff usage,” a spokesperson for the HSE said.
The HSE said that where possible, permission was granted for new residents to be admiitted into vacated beds.
Regarding Abbeyleix, the HSE spokesperson said that significant work has gone into reducing the level of accrued time off in lieu.
“However there still remains accumulated annual leave/TOIL but it is envisaged on current projections that this will be addressed in the next period of time. The HSE remains of the position where the funding issues are confirmed and where staff are available to meet a roster (without a requirement for agency, TOIL or overtime; and where accumulated issues have been addressed) and there is capacity to admit residents, it will, and has,” the HSE said.