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Hospital hygiene is not a question of resources, insists Harney

By Donal Hickey
RESOURCES have nothing to do with hospital hygiene, according to Tánaiste and Health Minister Mary Harney.

Speaking in Tralee yesterday she said hospitals were much cleaner and even 'spotless' when there was a lot less money in the country.

Ms Harney, who officially opened a new medical centre, in Ardfert, Co Kerry, was asked about the situation in Kerry General Hospital, Tralee, which was recently found to be one of the dirtiest in the country in a national audit of hygiene in acute hospitals.

She replied the hospital had an annual budget of €64.5 million and more than 870 staff, and hygiene was a question for hospital management.

"Hygiene is something very basic, which people are entitled to expect. It's not a question of resources, but something for management of hospitals," Ms Harney said.

The minister said her itinerary did not allow her to visit Kerry General Hospital yesterday, but she hoped to do so on a future visit to the county.

Meanwhile, Kerry IFA said it was disappointed that a request to meet the Tánaiste to discuss the nitrates directive had been turned down.

IFA county chairman John Stack said farmers were extremely concerned about the directive, which limits the amount of manure that may be spread and the time when this work may be carried out.

He said that even though the issue was not within Ms Harney's portfolio, she should, as someone with a seat at the Cabinet table, have met with the IFA group.