Future of Cashel Hospital called into question

Future of Cashel Hospital called into question

St Patrick's Hospital in Cashel

Ongoing staffing issues, no medical officer and bed closures calls the future of St Patrick's Hospital into question, the HSE has been told by one local councillor.

At the September meeting of the Regional Health Forum, Cllr Tom Wood said, “with no medical officer, little or no progress in resolving a shortfall in staffing levels and a continuing reduction in bed numbers, I can only contend that St Patricks Hospital in Cashel is being downgraded and will eventually be closed by stealth.

“I question what immediate action will be taken to ensure continuity of safe patient care, a proud tradition associated with the hospital for many decades and one which we want to see continued.”

Cllr Wood said that since the announcement was made by the Minister for Health in January 2016 for the provision of a 100 bed purpose built nursing home at St Patrick's to meet HIQA standards by 2021 it was rather strange that overall bed numbers had been reduced by 38 to 107 and this at a time when there was increasing demand for facilities for the elderly.

Cllr Wood acknowledged the service given over many years by the now retired medical officer and expressed concern that, some three months later and after giving six months notice of his intention to retire from the post, the vacancy had not yet been filled.

The present inadequate medical cover and a HSE failure to respond to vacancies, including nine outstanding posts for multi task attendants, was unacceptable, he argued, before calling on the relevant HSE personnel to meet the South Tipperary Forum Members on site to outline the plans for the nursing home development.

“On two occasions this year I have requested this on site meeting at St Patrick's and it has yet to materialise. I now want this meeting to take place within the coming weeks,” he concluded.

In her written response, Aileen Colley, Chief Officer, Community Health Organisation, Area 5, wrote, “On 30th June, the permanent medical officer for Saint Patricks Hospital, Cashel, retired. Although this permanent post was advertised by the National Recruitment Service (in line with HR policy), unfortunately no applicant qualified.

“Since the medical officer's retirement, medical officer cover was provided via the use of agency staff. The agency post holder took annual leave recently which resulted in a two day shortfall of cover, 4th and 5th of September. In recognition of the clinical need, the HSE has sourced as an interim measure medical officer cover for this leave.The Consultant Geriatrician (South Tipperary General Hospital) continues to provide a service to Saint Patricks.

“The HSE is continuing to actively source and recruit a permanent medical officer.

“Any identified gaps in the multi-task attendant roster are currently addressed through agency staffing.”