HSE pays €6,000 to move instruments
Huge cost of transporting surgical devices between two hospitals revealed
A PRIVATE firm was paid almost €6,000 in one week to transport surgical instruments from one hospital to another because cleaning equipment has not been fixed for a year, the Irish Independent has learned.
Expensive surgical devices, which need to be decontaminated for patient safety, have to be transferred on a frequent basis between Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth, and Our Lady's Hospital in Navan, Co Meath. It is a distance of around 16 miles.
Documents seen by the Irish Independent show that Dublin company EMSS Med Trans was paid more than €5,800 for transporting the instruments between the hospitals over the course of just one week last month.
They were paid €3,575 for work carried out across the seven-day period within normal working hours. However, they were also paid €65 an hour to provide the service outside of regular office hours.
EMSS continues to provide the service.
The Dun Laoghaire-based company hit the headlines recently after it was involved in the failed bid to secure urgent transport for Sligo teenager Meadhbh McGivern, who lost out on a liver transplant in the UK .
The company, which was hired by Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin to co-ordinate travel and air transportation, was among several agencies involved in the attempts in July to secure a plane or helicopter for the teen.
It is understood the steam quality of the cleaning machines in the Drogheda hospital is not of the standard required to ensure the instruments are made safe for the next patient.
The cleaning equipment has not been of the standard required for nearly a year.
The cash-strapped Health Service Executive (HSE) has been footing the bill to transfer the instruments to be cleaned in Navan since then.
The HSE confirmed the reusable invasive medical devices from Drogheda were being cleaned in Navan to ensure the "highest possible clinical standards were being met".
A spokesperson said the Drogheda hospital had been experiencing problems with steam quality, which is an essential component in the decontamination process .
"No such problems exist at Our Lady's Hospital in Navan and accordingly instrumentation is being transported within the hospital group to ensure the devices are available at all times and that excellence in clinical standards is maintained," it added.
The HSE confirmed it engaged an "experienced company" to transport the devices and it met the current specification needed.
It would continue to "examine all options" to ensure it maintained a supply of devices to deliver patient care and also ensure value for money for the Exchequer.
However, the HSE did not say how much it would cost to fix the machine. And it would not confirm the extent of the bill for transportation so far.
A spokesman for EMSS confirmed it provided a transport service for Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
However, he said the "exact nature and content is something for the hospital or the HSE to confirm. We cannot comment on the finer points".
The spokesman said it had no formal contract for the work and it was hired on an occasional basis.
There is currently a tender process being entered into to provide a long-term service, which would lead to a different pricing structure to the existing system .
The HSE region covering the north-east and north Dublin is currently under severe financial pressure and is examining a range of cuts, including the possibility of scaling back the around-the-clock emergency department in Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, Dublin.