Wards closed to sick children on day hopes of new hospital dashed
UP to 35 beds were closed to young patients in two of the main children's hospitals yesterday.
There were 25 beds shut in Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin and 10 in Temple Street Hospital, both in Dublin.
The closed wards are a stark reminder of the funding difficulties faced by hospitals caring for some of the country's sickest children as the timetable for the construction of the new national children's hospital was pushed out to some unknown future date.
Although some investment has been maintained in the hospitals to allow for facilities such as new theatres, it has not been at the level needed to meet demand.
Our Lady's, Crumlin, and Temple Street Hospital are both housed in outdated and cramped facilities, unsuited to the modern demands of medicine.
Our Lady's, Crumlin, has had to rely on pre-fabs instead of modern extensions and it does not have enough beds for all its cancer patients.
It means that children from around the country may have to spend two weeks in their local hospital before a bed becomes free in Crumlin and they can be admitted for treatment.
It emerged earlier this week that the closed beds in both Crumlin and Temple Street are impacting on the waiting times faced by children coming through A&Es this winter, forcing some to spend more than 24 hours on a trolley.
There have been further cuts to funding for Crumlin, Temple Street and the children's unit in Tallaght Hospital this year, which will result in even more pressure on services.
Last year, the board of Our Lady's, Crumlin, wrote to the Health Minister James Reilly warning that it could run out of money before the end of the year.
The letter, signed by the board chairman Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, outlined concerns that funds would run dry within six months.
Crumlin received funding of €120m for 2011 -- a cut of €5m on 2010. Across the three hospitals there are an estimated 24,000 children waiting to see a specialist.