‘Crisis point’ at
hospital

The ban on hiring staff at Mountmellick’s community care hospital has led to a crisis point which has forced the director of nursing to merge wards..

The ban on hiring staff at Mountmellick’s community care hospital has led to a crisis point which has forced the director of nursing to merge wards..

Just a fortnight after the HSE vowed it wa committed to the future of Mountmellick’s hospital, a letter from the Director of Nursing at St Vincent’s to families and patients states that “a crisis point” is forcing an amalgamation of two wards.

Ms Louisea Burke said that the HSE’s staff moratorium is in place for several years.

“Recent reductions in staffing levels have led us to a crisis point here in St Vincent’s Community Nursing Unit.

Unfortunately due to budgetary constraints we are not in a position to increase our depleted staffing levels therefore it has been proposed that we amalgamate St Mary’s ward and St Theresa’s ward (upstairs).

“This would ensure that we are able to maintain the high standards of care provided to our residents, also ensuring a safe environment for all.

To facilitate this process, beds and the bed spaces will need to be reorganised but all continuing care residents will remain upstairs,” the letter reads.

Ms Burke apologised for any inconvenience caused.

“We hope that the process will have the lease amount of impact to our residents,” she said.

When the HSE was asked if this is effectively a closure of another ward, and would it put the hospital at risk of failing HIQA standards, the HSE sent the following reply.

“The HSE is constantly configuring how services are delivered to maximise the use of staff and resources. There is no reduction in the bed numbers at St. Vincent’s CNU, Mountmellick. The management will continue to monitor the situation and adapt accordingly to the needs of the residents,”

The budget to run the Mountmellick unit, which has 106 patients and over 100 staff, overran by nearly €500,000 for the first three months of 2012, costing almost €2.5 million. However on a cost per bed basis, the hospital came in third cheapest of nine units in the midlands.

Questions on how many patients are being moved, and whether they will be sleeping in more confined quarters, were not commented on.

St Joseph’s Ward was closed several years ago, also due to the staff moratorium, before this patient capacity stood at 160.

Late last month the HSE pledged itself to Mountmellick.

“HSE is committed to the future of St Vincent’s ... it is true, there is no waiting list.”