The announcement last Thursday that the Rehabilitation Unit at Saint Patrickâ€™s Hospital, in Cashel, is to be transferred to the upper floor of nearby Our Ladyâ€™s Hospital has been greeted with anger and disbelief throughout the area, according to local County Councillor Tom Wood.
Staff at the accredited unit were summoned to a surprise meeting at 10.30am last Thursday morning, at the unit, to hear the Co-ordinator for Elderly Care Services in the region deliver the bitter news, termed by Councillor Wood as, â€œa strange, hasty and ill-thought-out decision made by faceless bureaucrats.â€
Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Wood issued a statement to The Nationalist saying that he has now taken action and written to the Health Minister, Dr James Reilly, requesting him to put an immediate stay on the decision until a satisfactory investigation is carried out into various issues. He says that included in that investigation should be questions as to why there was no consultation with Consultant Geriatricians who have responsibility for patient care and how the top floor of Our Ladyâ€™s Hospital could be considered more suitable as a Rehabilitation Unit than the purposely built ground floor one at Saint Patrickâ€™s.
In suggesting that patients, their families and the dedicated staff should be treated with dignity and respect and stating that the decision makes no clinical sense, Councillor Wood has also brought the 1996 legally binding agreement on the hospital services in South Tipperary to the attention of the Minister, highlighting where it states that while the acute services at Our Ladyâ€™s were been transferred to Clonmel, the future of Saint Patrickâ€™s had been safeguarded.
In 2006, Councillor Wood, who has over the years regularly raised issues relating to Saint Patrickâ€™s Hospital, was advised by the then Local Health Manager, Mr. Seamus Moore, that there was no question of the hospital being downgraded because work was due to start on the refurbishment of the hospitalâ€™s Rehabilitation Unit for which funding of â‚¬1.5 million had been allocated. He said that the services at Saint Patricks would continue to be provided in line with the Cashel Hospital Agreement and he described it as â€œthe flagship serviceâ€, in residential services for the elderly.
Now Councillor Wood contends that if the Rehabilitation Unit, which he describes as â€˜the jewel in the crown of services,â€™ is removed, plus the Respite beds at the facility, Saint Patrickâ€™s and all that it stands for will be on the decline.
In questioning how long the Rehab Unit would survive if transferred to Our Ladyâ€™s, Councillor Wood believes that the â€˜crazy decision, made in secret and in haste,â€™ is not alone to save money but to try and rid the HSE of the embarrassment of having an almost empty complex at Our Ladyâ€™s Hospital site due to its failure and that of its predecessor to live up to the 1996 Statement of Commitment whereby numerous clinics and services were listed to be installed there
â€œBe wary of the HSE playing off Saint Patrickâ€™s against Our Ladyâ€™s,â€ Councillor Wood concluded, advising the people of Cashel to be vigilant.