A new labour unit at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) will not be used for maternity needs for at least another three months because equipment has not been bought for it and staff have yet to be hired.
The neo-natal unit, which is part of a €2m development, has remained vacant for almost 18 months since it was visited by former health minister James Reilly in April 2014.
According to the Health Service Executive the total cost of the labour unit was €2m with an additional €400,000 required to equip the labour suite sufficiently.
The HSE also said the unit has not yet opened due to additional staffing resource requirements.
Local Sinn Féin councilor John Hearne said he would be “delighted” to see the unit opening up but he is skeptical: “We keep coming across this all the time that everything is going to happen in the future and UHW is going to be a bright new shiny hospital in the future but it’s not happening and it hasn’t been happening.
“The way UHW is going, I see them running it down at the moment. I don’t see them upgrading it.”
The new delivery suite is currently in the commissioning stage but will now be used on an interim basis as an acute medical unit (AMU), according to the HSE. The current AMU is being refurbished at a cost of €200,000.
Cllr Hearne said he could not see the unit being opened in mid-November as expected. “There’s no excuse. I don’t think it’s plausible at all. If they wanted to put that in place they would have it in place.”
UHW’s existing neo-natal unit has a labour suite with four delivery rooms, one obstetric operating theatre and an admission room. The unit also provides obstetric services locally and in-utero transfers from other hospitals in the southeast.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved