Mountmellick Town councillors are to seek an immediate meeting with the HSE to demand answers as to why beds are being left empty in St Vincent’s Hospital, the main community nursing unit in Laois.
Labour and Fine Gael cllrs have agreed to pressurise their parties into restoring full service at the unit.
A letter from the HSE General Manager of Primary Community and Continuing Care left councillors vexed at last Thursday’s area meeting.
In reply as to why there were empty beds, the letter explained that staff on any kind of leave cannot be replaced, due to the moratorium.
“Safe staffing levels are essential to deliver patient care. The HSE continues to monitor staffing levels in the CNU on a daily basis to ensure safe provision of care. Every effort is being made to maximise the services available but within the context of available resources,”
“What do they think of us sitting around the table, they have no respect for us in Mountmellick Town Council,” said Fine Gael Cllr Bobby Delaney.
Labour Cllr Pat Bowe demanded to see patients admitted, saying it would give piece of mind to them and to the staff for their job security.
“Over a number of months, when people die, their beds are not being filled. There is a volume of people looking to get in. I don’t know what the HSE’s agenda is, but if this carries on we are looking at a situation where they will be looking to close another ward. This is the best hospital in surrounding counties, and local people are being either moved to another unit or another county, where people can’t get to visit them. We need clarification and we are not getting that,” he said.
“They say it’s not being downgraded, but it’s automatic downgrading if they don’t replace staff who retire or go on maternity leave, and if beds are left idle. This has to be brought to bear at a political level. The HSE are going to come up with the same answer. We need to keep the hospital at the standard it was when the nuns were running it. We can’t if staff diminish. The next thing they’ll say there isn’t enough staff or patients to keep it open,” he said.
Fianna Fail Cllr Paddy Bracken had asked his colleagues to put the pressure on the parties in power.
“This letter could be from 2011 or 2010 because nothing has changed at all. Promises made a year ago have been reneged on. It’s sad to think that people who have lived here all their lives, and have worked hard, are being put all over the county, and outside of it,” he said.
FG Cllr Bobby Delaney said he hoped that in twenty years, he himself would be able to end his days in the hospital, well respected for it’s high level of patient care.
“My ambition was to increase the size of St Vincent’s, to get more beds. I agree about that letter, I knew what was in it before I opened it,” he said.