HSE hits back at Hiqa report on ‘hospital-like’ care centre

The HSE has hit back at Hiqa over a critical report issued by the health watchdog on a centre for older people in Co Clare.

The HSE has also written to the county’s elected representatives to reassure them about standards of care at St Joseph’s Hospital which was the subject of a legal wrangle last month between the health executive and the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa).

Hiqa had published, last Friday, an inspection report on St Joseph’s highlighting areas of non-compliance with recognised standards and referring to aspects of the facility as “institutional” and “hospital-like”. The inspection was conducted in August 2016.

Just last month, the matter came before the district court in Ennis after the HSE had appealed against a Hiqa notice that would have stopped new admissions to the facility. Both parties agreed on a way forward and the matter was adjourned until later in the year.

The HSE did not comment on the report issued last Friday by Hiqa but, yesterday, the chief officer of HSE Mid-West community healthcare, Bernard Gloster, confirmed a memorandum had been issued to all local council members following a request to do so by its chairman Cllr Tom McNamara.

In that memorandum, Mr Gloster said of the Hiqa inspection report: “Some aspects of the coverage of the report were out of context and in some respects inaccurate.”

He said the HSE had issued Hiqa with two action plans following the inspection, before earlier this year Hiqa issued a notice of its proposal to attach a condition to the facility’s registration that would have meant no admissions to the main parts of the facility.

“Within the 28 days allowed we appealed to Hiqa their proposal and, at this point, submitted a third, more detailed and intensely resourced, action plan,” said Mr Gloster.

However, Hiqa rejected this, resulting in the HSE’s appeal to the district court which led to an agreement between both parties that admissions could continue while improvements would continue. The matter is due before court on September 22.

“During the adjourned proceedings, Hiqa — as is their right — published the report of the August inspection,” Mr Gloster wrote in the memo to councillors. “In that context, they appear to have relied on the first action plan, excluded parts of same from the publication as they were not acceptable to them and have not published the third action plan which is the one being worked to. The HSE did express concern about this to Hiqa, however, ultimately we have no function in what they choose to publish or when.”

Reassuring public representatives, he said: “There is not now nor has there been an allegation or reference to abuse, wilful neglect or mistreatment of our residents in St Josephs. There is an issue with the limitation of the building which we have a plan and approved funding to deal with by 2021.

“There are some issues with practice in what you might have heard referenced as ‘institutional’ or ‘hospital like’ in St Josephs. Setting aside the limitations of the building these are being dealt with and continue to be so and again I give you full assurance on that.”

He added: “Our appeal to the court was to ensure that those challenges were not taken as justifying the closing of the facility to new admissions.”

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