Anger as opening of community hospital delayed

A €16.4 MILLION community hospital in Dingle will not open on Tuesday as planned because the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is not satisfied with facilities there.

The shock HSE announcement that the opening would be delayed yet again provoked angry reaction yesterday.

The first-phase transfer of 43 residents from the existing St Elizabeth’s Hospital, due to take place on Tuesday, will not be going ahead because the necessary HIQA registration process for residential care services for older people is not completed in the facility.

“It had been hoped that this process would be completed in time to allow the move to go ahead. However, it is now clear that this is not achievable and a new transfer of service date will be chosen once registration has been provided,” said the HSE in a statement.

According to Dingle Fine Gael councillor Seamus Cosai Fitzgerald, some of problems relate to inadequate shower facilities in the new 68-bed hospital, for which people on the Dingle Peninsula have been waiting for well over a decade.

Nurses and other staff had already begun moving in equipment and patients’ personal belongings and people in Dingle reacted furiously to news of the postponement.

Mr Fitzgerald said staff had “worked like slaves” over the past month on the planned transfer operation.

“Everyone in the hospital, including the patients, are gutted to think the plug could be pulled this way. I’m absolutely disgusted,” he said. He also criticised HIQA and called for the intervention of Health Minister Mary Harney, saying the hospital had initially been due to open early in 2009.

Mr Fitzgerald said the old hospital had just two showers and he could not understand why the new hospital did not have enough, given that there were five or six showers in each unit.

However, a HIQA spokesman said they had to ensure all facilities met the needs of patients going into the hospital and that patients were safe and would receive the proper quality of care.

He said HIQA inspectors visited the hospital last month and afterwards presented a draft report to the HSE. A response was awaited from the HSE before registration could be completed.

“This is a legal process and registration is a legal act which must be done right,” the spokesman said, adding that a full report would be published later.

Earlier this month the opening was threatened by a vote by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation not to transfer to the new hospital over staffing concerns.


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