Speaking in response to the recent HIQA report on St Joseph’s Community Hospital in Stranorlar and the plans of the HSE to close up to ten beds in the Hospital, Sinn Féin Councillor Cora Harvey has insisted the HSE recruitment ban is to blame.
Cllr Cora Harvey will organise a public meeting on St Joseph’s Community Hospital in Stranorlar.
This meeting is being organised in view of the proposed bed closures at the hospital, changes to respite arrangements, the Haddington Road Agreement, the recent HIQA report and any other issues that need to be clarified.
The meeting will seek to clarify the plans of the HSE in relation to St Joseph’s and inform the public of developments.
“While I am supportive of the role of HIQA as an independent body in ensuring adequate standards of care in our Community Hospitals, it must be remembered that since the recruitment moratorium in the HSE the staff numbers in St Joseph’s have dropped from 37 WTE to 25 WTE. The staff and management of St Joseph’s are being consistently asked to do more with less resources,” she said.
“Despite this, he HIQA report acknowledged that the staff in St Joseph’s were knowledgeable, competent and respectful while residents were satisfied with the level of care received, describing the staff as “always friendly and helpful”. However, at the time of the latest inspection for example, there were 10 staff off on leave and one retirement of a clinical nurse manager who had been on night duty. It is only natural that a high level of staff shortages will have an impact on services.
“The response of the HSE has been to propose a cut in beds at the Hospital. At present there is a proposal in place to cut the bed numbers up to ten. This comes after the number of beds at the Hospital was reduced by 11 in 2010-2011.It must be pointed out that while there are general concerns in the report regarding the space available to residents, nowhere in the HIQA report does it state that beds must be closed. This report must not be used as an instrument to further cut back services at our community hospital.
“When the proposal to cut beds was recently queried, the HSE justified the proposal stating that it was due to beds being under utilised. This is despite an increase in admissions of over 20% and meanwhile, families who avail of respite care for their loved ones have been informed in recent weeks that the frequency of respite care available at the hospital will be reduced.
“I am calling on the HSE to immediately clarify their proposal to cut beds at the Hospital and the justification for same, the reasons why the respite care available to families is being cut and how the concerns in the HIQA report will be addressed. It is not good enough that decisions to cut services are made behind closed doors. St Joseph’s is a public hospital and a valued service in the Finn Valley and beyond.
“The Government must also lift the moratorium on recruitment and invest in our community hospital network to ensure that appropriate standards are met and our community hospitals are allowed to thrive into the future.”