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Children's beds to remain closed at Crumlin hospital

Beds are to remain closed at Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin this year -- although all theatres are open.

A spokesperson for the hospital told the Herald that the hospital was awaiting confirmation of its 2010 allocation from the Health Service Executive.

She said that: "The hospital broke even in 2009 due to a cost-containment programme which included the closure of 25 beds and one rotational operating theatre.

"Our Lady' s Children's Hospital, Crumlin made a decision with effect from Monday, 1 February 2010, that all theatres will be available for patient scheduling, within available resources.

"The decision to reopen all theatres will be kept under ongoing review and the hospital will have to operate within its financial allocation for 2010 which has yet to be finalised.

"The 25 beds closed in 2009 will remain closed," she said.

Health Minister Mary Harney was recently asked about the position over bed closures at the hospital.

She said that: "The HSE is involved in ongoing discussions with hospital management regarding its 2010 financial allocation and service plan, and the exact services to be provided in the hospital during the year will be addressed in this context."

She said that, in common with all hospitals, the Crumlin hospital was faced with the challenge of delivering a high quality service to its patients while remaining within budget.

"The HSE is pursuing ways in which services across the three Dublin paediatric hospitals can best be co-ordinated, to avoid unnecessary duplication and to achieve savings that can be put back into patient care.

"A paediatric hospitals operations group has now been established for ongoing network management and enhanced integration of the three paediatric hospitals in advance of the transfer to the new paediatric hospital," she said.

However Fine Gael TD Catherine Byrne said that: "The bottom line is that frontline services for sick children should never be targeted when making cost savings."

She added: "When St Joseph's ward in Our Lady's closed in May last year, I was contacted by a huge number of parents who were upset and angry that this was allowed to happen."

She had asked the minister for information about bed closures at the hospital.

There has been continuing controversy over the hospital cutbacks.

Crumlin confirmed last year that the break-even plan which it had implemented had included the closure of the 25 beds and one operating theatre.