the future of Abbeyleix and Shaen hospitals hangs on a decision to be made by the Minister for Health shortly, but the HSE say they are committed to the larger elderly care unit in Mountmellick.
A spokesperson for the HSE also confirmed yesterday that there is no waiting list for St Vincent’s Hospital in Mountmellick, which currently has 106 patients and employs over 100 staff.
“The HSE is committed to the future of St Vincents, Mountmellick. Yes it is true, there is no waiting list,” the spokesperson said.
The cost of running the Mountmellick unit overran by €477,634 from January to March this year. Income for the elderly care hospital came to over €1.9 million but costs came to almost €2.5 million.
The HSE have defended the cost, saying there are three times as much patients in Mountmellick as there are in Abbeyleix CNU which has 28 patients, or St Bridgid’s Shaen which has 26. On a cost per bed basis, Mountmellick is third cheapest across the nine units in the midlands, at €1,766 per week, with Tullamore and Birr marginally cheaper.
Mountmellick councillors are still concerned for their local hospital, after meeting with the HSE last week to discuss the figures.
Cllr Bobby Delaney says he queried every line on the expenditure account.
“My biggest worry is if they don’t replace beds, there is a capacity of 160 people. It should be possible to increase the number of patients, the heating and lighting costs would stay the same. It is such an asset to the town, I don’t want to see it going, but I am alarmed at how much it is costing to run the hospital. It shocked me,” he said.
The local councillor was surprised to hear there was no waiting list.
“I find that remarkable,” he said.
Cllr Stephen Lynch says the hospital was kept open in poorer times than now.
“These people have gone through life paying their taxes. They have worked harder in some cases than wealthy people who can afford private care. I know we have to manage our business right, and the HSE have to keep in line with HIQA, but they must be facilitated,” he said.
Chairperson of Abbeyleix Hospital Action Group, Gary O’Keeffe, was incredulous that there was no waiting list for St Vincent’s Hospital.
“I find that simply incredible to believe,” he said.
His group has submitted an alternate plan to keep Abbeyleix CNU open, awaiting a decision by Minister O’Reilly to be made in the coming weeks.
“It is not practical to have all this care in one end of the county, and nothing at the other,” he said.