Saturday 18 November 2017

Beds axed two days after Burton pledge

Edel O'Connell

ALMOST 30 hospital beds in Dublin are to be lost just two days after a government minister made assurances that services would be retained at the cash-strapped facility.

An internal memo circulated at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, Co Dublin -- and seen by the Irish Independent -- tells staff that 28 beds across two wards will be closed in a bid to tackle a projected €7m budget deficit by the end of the year.

The memo said activity had to be curtailed, adding the "difficult decision" had been made at an executive meeting on October 4 -- the same day ministers pledged their commitment to the hospital's future.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, Health Minister Dr James Reilly and Transport Minister Leo Varadkar met with consultants at the hospital just three days ago at the opening of a new endoscopy wing.

In a statement she issued after the meeting Ms Burton said the meeting had been "very successful".

"The retained level of service in Connolly A&E is of enormous importance to the Dublin West community and I welcome the assurances that this service will be retained. Obviously there are budgetary issues. However, I was very encouraged at Dr Reilly's commitment to Connolly Hospital," she said.

However, the memo -- circulated by hospital management -- states that a total of 12 inpatient surgical beds will be closed gradually with immediate effect.

In addition, a surgical day ward at the hospital -- which is acknowledged by the HSE as being one of the best and most efficient in the country -- will then close from October 24, with the loss of 24 beds.

It will reopen for six weeks in early November, but will only include eight trolleys, "to facilitate urgent day cases".

Currently the ward caters for 30 to 40 patients but when it reopens, its limited capacity will mean it can only handle a third of this patient load.

When questioned by the Irish Independent yesterday Ms Burton refused to roll back on her support of Dr Reilly's "commitment" to a hospital where he himself trained.

She said she had been "unaware" of the forthcoming bed closures.

A HSE spokesman said the hospital had to comply with statutory obligations to remain within its allocated budget.

Irish Independent

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