Health facility opening delay is ‘victimisation’ of older people

THE failure to open a new €16.4 million community hospital in Dingle amounts to further victimisation of older people by the cash-strapped Government, it was claimed yesterday.

The opening of the 68-bed hospital, which was due to take place today, had to be postponed because the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is not satisfied with facilities there.

Preparations were in train for the first-phase transfer of 43 patients and staff from St Elizabeth’s Hospital in Dingle, but the move was halted until the new hospital is registered by HIQA.

Senator Phil Prendergast, Labour party spokeswoman on older people, said the HSE knew the standards required for Dingle Community Hospital when construction started two years ago. Less than month ago, the HSE confirmed the opening date would be today, she added.

“So, it is simply not credible that it has only just discovered that the hospital cannot now meet the required standards on time,” Senator Prendergast said.

She said the failure to open the hospital was the latest example of a spending promise not being kept and victimisation of older people. The excuse that the hospital did not meet standards set by HIQA, which was set up by the Department of Health, suggested the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing, she said.

“But I believe a deeper deceit is at play. The Government has created an elaborate bureaucracy in the health service so that the left hand can stop what the right hand is doing in order to save money. This allows ministers refer to spending plans as though action is being taken to develop services when in fact it is not.”

People in west Kerry have reacted angrily to the postponement which, according to Dingle Fine Gael councillor Seamus Cosai Fitzgerald, arises from inadequate shower facilities.

Neither the HSE, nor HIQA, could say when the hospital will be opened, but HIQA promised to publish a statement at a later date.


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