HSE â€˜bully boysâ€™ have been attacked by the three South Tipperary TDs over their handling of a proposed transfer of a rehabilitation unit and respite beds from St.Patrickâ€™s Hospital to the nearby Our Ladyâ€™s Hospital in Cashel.
Staff at the state of the art unit in St.Patricks were informed by HSE last Thursday that the unit and respite beds were moving to Our Ladys without any consultation or information relayed to them on the timing of the transfer or the management structure that will be put in place.
The treatment of the staff has been slammed as â€˜outrageousâ€™ and following a series of meetings between the HSE and Oireachtas members the HSE has been asked to sanction an independent assessment of such a transfer before any move would take place.
Government TD Tom Hayes said the HSE had â€˜blown itâ€™ while opposition TDs slammed the behaviour of the HSE. Deputy Mattie McGrath said the HSE â€˜bully boysâ€™ had handled it in a typically ham fisted manner, violating the rights of staff and service users in the interests of pursuing a â€˜career for themselvesâ€. Deputy Seamus Healy said the staff at the unit were treated in an â€œappalling fashionâ€ by the HSE and there was a lot of anger among staff.
Last Thursday the HSE informed staff of the move at a meeting in St.Patrickâ€™s. On Sunday Oireachtas members met shocked staff at the rehabilitation unit and on Monday the Oireachtas members met HSE management at South Tipperary General Hospital.
At the meeting the HSE were criticised for the lack of consultation with the Cashel staff and were asked to approve of an independent assessment of the proposed transfer, to see if Our Ladyâ€™s was suitable.
Deputy McGrath said the move did not seem to make any sense on financial or service grounds.
â€œWhy would you move a state of the art rehabilitation unit like this in a perfect ground floor location with gardens to the second floor of another building.It is just a convenient out for the HSE who now have to move something into Our Ladyâ€™s after spending over E20m on it. It is a white elephant and they just want to tick the boxes because the empty Our Ladyâ€™s building is an embarrassment to them,â€ said Deputy McGrath.
Deputy Seamus Healy said staff had no input into the decision and had not been consulted prior to last Thursdayâ€™s announcement.
â€œThis was typical of the HSE.Make an announcement, engage in sham consultation and then just go ahead and do what they were going to do anyway,â€ said Deputy Healy. He said staff were rightly outraged by the actions of the HSE. Staff, while they had no objection in principle to the transfer, were disappointed that no consultation took place and they wanted assurances that the new site was suitable for the delivery of the service .
Deputy Tom Hayes said the fact that the E20m Our Ladyâ€™s was lying idle was a huge issue since the amalgamation of the acute services in South Tipperary took place. He believed the proposal had its merits but that proper consultation should have taken place long before the HSE had â€˜blown itâ€™ in the way they announced the move last Thursday.
â€œThe HSE has made a blunder on the way they communicated the information ,â€ insisted Deputy Hayes.
Deputy Hayes said that the St. Clares unit in St.Patrickâ€™s was due to be closed but that has now been averted by a proposal to move the St. Clare unit to the location of the rehabilitation unit in St. Patricks and moving the rehabilitation unit to Our Ladyâ€™s
He said no decision had been taken as to what floor of Our Ladyâ€™s the rehabilitation unit would be moved to and he believed the HSE should carry out the independent assessment that is now proposed.
â€œIt should have been a progressive move but the HSE made a mess of it,â€ he said.
In a statement the HSE said the HSE South Regional Service Plan 2013 features the proposed transfer of the respite and rehabilitation beds from St Patricksâ€™ Hospital in Cashel to the adjacent vacant facilities at Our Ladyâ€™s Hospital.
There are a number of vacant wards and offices at Our Ladyâ€™s which have been refurbished to a very high standard to date that have the potential to provide high quality facilities for these short stay services.
â€œFollowing the transfer of services to Our Ladyâ€™s, a development plan will be prepared around the remaining facilities at St Patrickâ€™s in order to support its re-registration with HIQA, set to take place in 2015. The proposal will be worked through a consultation process with the staff and other relevant stakeholders of St Patrickâ€™s Hospital over the coming period.
It is important to note that the proposed transfer of service will improve the facilities and the environment for patients at both locations. It also retains a significant service in Cashel consistent with the approach taken by the HSE South in relation to service for older people in its Regional Service Plan.
The HSE would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm that St Patrickâ€™s Hospital Cashel will continue to play a significant role in the provision of public services for older people,â€ went the statement.