A new paediatric outpatient and urgent care centre at Dublin’s Connolly Hospital is to open next week despite safety concerns raised by doctors.
Children’s Health Ireland has described the new facility as an “important milestone” in the overall new children’s hospital project.
CHI said it was responsible for the delivery of healthcare services to children and young people and was focussed “at all times” on delivering them safely and appropriately.
The existence of risks in the pre-opening period was expected, but all risks identified by CHI management and by clinicians had reduced due to “mitigation actions” in recent weeks.
CHI met with doctors’ representative groups yesterday to share the “updated risk assessment and mitigation plan” to have services at Connolly open safely on Wednesday.
“In keeping with best practice on opening urgent care services, the urgent care centre will open on a phased basis,” it said.
“This phasing allows us to monitor and review our processes, provide on-the-job training of staff and, above all else, assess and monitor patient safety,” it added.
CHI said the phased opening of the urgent care centre was also necessary as there were temporary vacancies in consultant posts.
There were “recruitment challenges” nationally and internationally in certain specialities, such as paediatric radiology and paediatric emergency medicine.
“While we have been successful in our recruitment campaign for emergency medicine, we do have temporary vacancies due to maternity and backfill requirements for paediatric emergency posts and two vacant radiologist posts,” it said.
The Irish Medical Organisation has expressed “deep concerns” about the planned opening of the new facility.
IMO consultant committee member, Dr Peadar Gilligan, said a risk assessment was conducted on the centre, but its outcome has not been published.
The body has called for the immediate publication of the risk assessment.
“The IMO fully supports the development of enhanced services for children. However, we have very serious concerns regarding the scheduled opening of the Urgent Care Centre in Connolly Hospital on July 31,” Dr Gilligan said.
With only days to go before the planned opening, they say they have yet to see a detailed and up-to-date risk assessment to confirm that the centre is fit to operate — even on the restricted basis that the CHI had said would be necessary.
The former IMO president said the HSE was finding it impossible to recruit sufficient consultants to operate the new services
because the Government had discriminated against all consultants appointed since 2012.
Consultants recruited since October 2012 earned up to €50,000 less per annum than colleagues employed earlier and the IMO believes the pay disparity is linked to the 500+ empty consultant posts across the country.
Health Minister Simon Harris committed in April to start a process to address the issue, but nothing had been done, said Dr Gilligan.