No plan to replace inadequate children’s ward in Tipperary

The HSE has no timeframe for the replacement of a busy children’s hospital ward which has been condemned as “not fit for purpose”.

A Hiqa report earlier this month said the 15-bed paediatric ward at South Tipperary General Hospital, in Clonmel, had been “identified by the hospital” as “not fit for purpose” and a “longstanding issue over a number of years”.

The HSE said that its estates department and the South/South West Hospital Group “recognise” that the paediatric unit in Clonmel needs to be replaced, and the ward will be included in the hospital’s development control plan, “currently being devised”.

This plan will be forwarded to the capital development committee in the HSE’s acute hospital division. It’s the hospital’s “long-term goal” to replace the unit.

However, when asked for a timescale for the replacement of the ward, which had 3,600 emergency presentations in 2015 and admitted 1,784 paediatric patients, the HSE said: “there is no timeframe, or costs, available at this time”.

The Hiqa report said that the “major infrastructural weaknesses” in the unit had also been highlighted in 2013, after a visit by the national leads of the national clinical programme for paediatrics and neonatology.

The unit comprises 15 inpatient beds in two four-bed rooms, a two-bed room, and five single rooms; an additional two beds for day ward services; a paediatric emergency room and patient waiting area.

The infrastructural weaknesses, according to Hiqa, include “severe space constraints and lack of both isolation facilities and parent facilities”.

An inspection, last March, found “insufficient spatial separation” in multi-bedded rooms, which “did not facilitate ease of movement of staff, patients, parents or visitors”, while minimal spatial separation between beds was “insufficient to enable the carrying out of clinical activities, without compromising infection prevention-and-control practices”.

Hiqa said that limited accessiblity and space in patient rooms “increases the risk of cross-infection and likely contributed to overall, poor environmental hygiene-compliance in the paediatric ward”.

There was also a lack of en suite isolation rooms, while the “design and finish” of shared patient toilets and showers “did not facilitate effective cleaning”. A “key barrier” to the improvement of the ward’s infrastructure was the age, and “limited footprint”, of the hospital building in Clonmel.

“The current infrastructure and design of the ward is not fit for purpose and does not meet international best practice guidelines,” the report said.


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