ELDERLY residents of an Abbeyleix nursing home are afraid to leave their beds for fear they will be removed, a court has heard.
Three occupants of the Abbeyleix Community nursing unit in Co Laois have brought a legal action aimed at preventing the HSE's planned closure of the unit. Their application for an injunction preventing the closure has now been adjourned until next Wednesday.
Yesterday, John Peart SC, for the residents, said his clients had claimed three beds were removed from the facility on November 28 last. As a result, many residents were afraid that if they left their rooms, their beds would be removed in their absence.
Mr Peart told the court: "These are elderly people. Their health has very significantly suffered and a doctor has stated on affidavit that one of them had suffered a heart attack. They fear if they leave their beds will be gone".
Peter Finlay SC, for the HSE, moved to quell fears and said the three beds in question were not being used and that it was never intended that their reconfiguration should interfere with the residents. He reiterated earlier assurances from the HSE that nothing would happen until the proceedings were dealt with in court.
Mr Finlay said he wanted to emphasise on behalf of the HSE that they were acutely aware of the patients' interests. "These are people we have been looking after for years and there is nothing we wish to do or say that will add to their anxiety."
He said his client needed a little more time to put their position on paper and said this showed the seriousness with which they viewed the case.
Last month, Maureen Delaney (89), Bridget O'Neill (92) and Catherine Kelly (93) were granted permission to challenge the proposed closure of the facility, where they have lived for the last number of years.
The residents claim the decision to close the facility was made for financial reasons and without consultation with them. The HSE say the unit is being closed on a phased basis due to reduced financial resources.