The standard one-year warranty on 10 PlayStations bought for the entertainment of children hospitalised with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is in danger of expiring before the ward for which they were purchased even opens.
The consoles, paid for by Munster-based CF charity Build4Life at a cost of circa €400 each, remain in storage while a new €2.3m 20-bed respiratory ward at Cork University Hospital (CUH), also paid for by the charity, remains closed.
The ward was completed in January and it had been expected that it would officially open within a month of completion of construction.
The PS4s were purchased in December 2014, leaving just over three months to run now before the standard 12-month warranty expires.
Build4Life previously ended up paying for an extended warranty on a €35,000 teleconferencing system it purchased for the CF service at CUH when the original warranty expired and the equipment had still not been used.
The new ward is equipped and ready for use but the hospital has been unable to open it due to “staffing constraints” even though the HSE’s own national clinical lead for its CF programme, Professor Charles Gallagher, said as long ago as January 2014 that the project should not be delayed. This is according to minutes of a meeting of the Adult Respiratory Ward Project group, seen by the Irish Examiner, where “it was agreed by all parties and reaffirmed by Prof Gallagher that the project should not be delayed in any way”.
The HSE’s national recruitment service was asked last July by Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch to prioritise staffing for the new unit.
Failure to open the ward has also been criticised in the Dáil, with Tom Fleming, Independent TD for Kerry South, arguing there was “a huge necessity to get the ward open immediately, not least because of the risk of cross-infection which can be fatal to [cystic fibrosis] patients”. The ward contains a number of designated single inpatient rooms for adults with CF.
Joe Browne, Build4Life founder, whose teenage son has CF, said he was “at the end of his tether”: “This ward is vital for protecting not just the health, but the lives of anyone with CF.”
The hospital yesterday reiterated a previous response when asked for an update on when the ward might open, saying that it was “actively recruiting nurses and interviews are being held in CUH on a weekly basis” and that there was a nursing shortage nationally.
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