Healthcare service opens 12 years after initial plan

A LONG-AWAITED healthcare project with its roots in 1996 was finalised yesterday by Health Minister Mary Harney when she officially opened the amalgamated hospital services in Clonmel.

The transfer of surgical and other services to Clonmel from Cashel last year followed the provision of acute facilities on two south Tipperary sites for 57 years.

All of the acute services are located in the Clonmel campus of South Tipperary General Hospital, formerly St Joseph’s Hospital.

At yesterday’s opening, hospital general manager Breda Kavanagh said when the acute hospital was located on two sites, there was “a clinical awareness that a number of risk factors were associated with this organisation of service delivery”.

Staff in Cashel and Clonmel provided an “excellent service”, she said. “It was felt that people using all acute services would be better served by the amalgamation of services. The 1996 High Court Agreement between the South Eastern Health Board and the Cashel Hospital Action Committee allowed for the location of acute services on one site in Clonmel.”

Ms Kavanagh said that the success of the amalgamation was also due to collaboration with local patient representative groups and the support of the Health Service Executive and the Department of Health and Children.

“The decision to amalgamate developed into a decision to design better services, for example the development of patient pathways through the Emergency Department and increasing the inpatient:daycase ratio.

“Modernisation opportunities were identified including infrastructural improvements outside the scope of the main Capital Project.”

The hospital’s work ethic is evidenced by the quality of access to services, said Ms Kavanagh, with South Tipperary General one of the few hospitals without a surgical waiting list.

Services at STGH include A&E, the treatment of minor injuries, an oncology day service, general surgery, medical treatment and surgery for children and for the elderly, outpatient clinics to care for diabetics, specialist nursing for chest pain, heart failure, oncology and palliative care for the terminally ill, an obesity clinic, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy and antenatal classes for expecting mothers and their partners.

“Through collaborative working with staff and partnership with unions,” said Ms Kavanagh, “we have developed a very successful hospital providing a range of quality services for patients requiring acute hospital services among the 100,000 people living in and around South Tipperary.”


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