County Councillor Gary Doherty has branded as ‘disgraceful’ the attitudes of successive governments towards Lifford Community Hospital.
And he has blamed the austerity policies of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour for the demise of the facility which has had its total In-Patient bed numbers halved since 2009.
Commenting on the shocking figures, which were revealed following a Parliamentary Question to the Minister for Health tabled by Sinn Féin, Cllr Doherty has squarely laid the blame at the door of the government parties for their failure to adequately resource the facility which has led to a steady reduction in patient numbers.
Cllr Doherty said “In December 2009, the number of beds available at Lifford Community Hospital was reduced by ten from 40 down to 30. Inspectors from HIQA were informed at the time of an unannounced inspection that this reduction was due to the HSE recruitment embargo which – as we all know – was shamefully introduced by Fianna Fáil.
“In their report the HIQA inspectors found that the physical design and layout of the premises – given the age of the building – did not meet the needs of residents in a number of ways, citing concerns relating to shared communal rooms, and limited assisted bathing and shower facilities.
“Another inspection was subsequently carried out in June 2011, during which it was observed that the number of beds at the hospital had been reduced further to 20 in total, with 11 beds designated for long-term residential care. Again, Inspectors noted that the building’s physical structure posed challenges to the delivery of care but staff were praised for the cleanliness and maintenance of rooms.”
The most recent HIQA inspection in May saw inspectors noted that there had been no new admissions for long term care for quite a considerable amount of time and also found that the number of long term residents had reduced from 11 at the time of registration down to just four.
“Again, despite five years having passed since HIQA’s very first inspection where it was reported that structural and design issues were preventing the needs of residents from being met, HIQA inspectors determined again in 2015 that the needs of residents were not being met due to the building’s layout, and that the problem was ‘seriously compromising’ the ability of staff to provide care to residents.
“Just like in 2010 concerns were raised about limited assisted bathing and shower facilities for residents and – despite this issue having been identified back in 2010 – they were found to be continuing to impact on patient care.
“In essence, the current government has known about these issues since before ever having taken office and yet here we are as they come to the end of a five year term and the facility has been scaled back, has lost half its bed capacity, with little or no assistance having been given to it to address the issues highlighted by HIQA inspectors.”
The Sinn Fein politician added that despite these challenges, during each and every inspection HIQA inspectors praised the high level of care received by service users at the hospital and commended staff at Lifford Hospital for the courteous and respectful manner in which they treated and cared for patients.
“The authority also spoke highly of the local community in Lifford, particularly the Friends of Lifford Hospital group for all the assistance and support which it provides to the unit such as fund raising initiatives and organising various activities for service users throughout the year.
“This facility has been at the heart of the community in Lifford since 1775 and has been a place where many of our elderly loved ones have been treated and cared for during times of sickness and ill health. It’s a place where many of them have spent their last days and – at a time of deep personal upset and grief for their families – Lifford hospital and its dedicated staff have been there for them.
“While the local community and indeed the staff and management at Lifford Hospital must be praised and congratulated for all that they do to provide what is an exceptional and tremendous service for residents and their families, the complete indifference and lack of support given to the facility by all the government parties is simply disgusting.”Tags: