The HSE has been instructed to redraw plans relating to specialist treatment rooms for children with cystic fibrosis (CF) at Cork University Hospital (CUH) after Health Minister Leo Varadkar intervened at the behest of a CF charity.
Members of Build4Life, who are donating €700,000 towards the project, met Leo Varadkar last week to express their unhappiness that none of the four assessment rooms for children with CF contained en suite facilities.
Build4Life founder Joe Browne said this was “contrary to best practice” given the vulnerability of CF patients to cross-infection, which can have devastating consequences.
The charity also raised concerns about the failure to include a nurse’s station in the new outpatient unit, which Mr Browne said was “akin to walking into a hotel with no reception desk”.
“The desk is needed for a variety of reasons — you can’t run a clinic if nurses are working in another part of the hospital,” he said. “They have to be there to meet patients, direct them to their rooms, work with the doctors, etc. The minister agreed with us.”
The HSE said in a statement it “has committed to meeting Build4life and their technical staff within the next two weeks”.
Mr Browne also raised the issue of a €400,000 Vat bill with Mr Varadkar. The charity, which has funded the overhaul of facilities for CF patients at CUH at a cost of more than €3m, previously called on the Government to waive the €400,000 tax bill.
While Revenue has said this is not legally possible, the charity is hoping to recoup the money through National Lottery funding. Mr Varadkar has told them to proceed with the application.
Meanwhile, a 20-bed inpatient adult respiratory ward, which includes ring- fenced beds for CF patients, is near completion. The HSE said it was “working on commissioning the ward”, but did not give a definite opening date other than to say it hopes “to open in the near future”.
The ward has been funded by Build4Life at a cost of €2.3m. Construction began last August and the HSE said equipment is being delivered. Mr Browne said he hoped the ward would open in the immediate future.
The new CF paediatric facility is part of a phased redevelopment of the children’s unit at CUH. Construction is expected to finish by September 2016.
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