Thursday 23 November 2017

Still no compensation for staff who fought flood

Greg Harkin

HERO staff whose clothes were destroyed in a hospital flood have still not received compensation from the HSE more than a year after the disaster.

The HSE has collected €34m in pay-outs from insurance companies for damage caused to the Emergency Department and several other areas of Letterkenny General Hospital.

But some staff who lost personal items and had clothes destroyed in the July 2013 flood have still not been compensated.

The HSE faced damages claims from all staff of just €22,000, mainly for destroyed clothing and footwear.

Some staff suffered the losses after going in on their holidays to help clean-up sewage-infested waters which poured into the hospital.

Others had belongings destroyed in work lockers at the hospital.

HSE West says some claims have been paid out whilst others were still being processed.

Donegal Deputy Padraig Mac Lochlainn, who has raised the issue with hospital management, accused the HSE of being 'mean-spirited.'

"Workers responded magnificently to the crisis and this is no way to treat them," said the TD.

"If staff lost items in the flood then they should be compensated as soon as possible. There has to be transparency over this issue and the HSE should meet those who haven't received their compensation and explain this delay."

He added: "Those involved went way beyond the call of duty on the days after last year's flood. They should be treated with dignity and respect."

Hospital sources told the Irish Independent that the delay in making some of the compensation payments had hit morale in the hospital.

"It is no way to treat good people who are out of pocket for what they did," said one member of staff.

"People worked endless hours on the clean-up and never asked for a cent, nor did they want anything for it.

"The compensation claims have been caught up in red tape."

Deputy Mac Lochlainn says the hospital is 'in crisis' following recent events, including a new flood there a week ago, although damage was not significant this time.

"I have asked hospital management to reassure the people of Co Donegal that there are enough registrars and junior doctors to cope in Letterkenny and I have not received a response to date," said the TD following an incident eight days ago where patients were sent to Sligo due to a lack of staff in Letterkenny.

HSE West said it was not in a position to answer specific questions on the compensation claims as it had been unable to get a response from Letterkenny management.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn also called on Health Minister Leo Varadkar to instigate a commission of enquiry into the 'flawed' hospital site.

He said staff and public confidence in the €34m hospital extension was now 'in shreds' after last week's flood.

"I have not received any assurances at all from hospital management so I have written directly to the Health Minister listing the issues which must be addressed by an independent investigation," said the Donegal North East TD.

"For the new hospital extension to be flooded once was a disaster; to be flooded a second time by flood waters coming from a different direction raises serious issues," he added.

Irish Independent

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