A total of 75 new beds are to be provided at Wexford General Hospital under the HSE's new capital plan, announced yesterday (Monday). Minister Paul Kehoe confirmed that, following conversations with Minister for Health Simon Harris, he was delighted to confirm that Wexford General Hospital was to benefit under the new plan, which also provides for the refurbishment of the Gorey Community Nursing Unit.
There was further good news for the South East as the plan also includes the provision of a long awaited second Cath Lab at Waterford University Hospital Waterford. There had been significant public outcry last month when it emerged that the cath lab in Waterford was to close for up to 12 weeks for scheduled maintenance. This meant that anyone from Wexford in need of life-saving cardiac services may have to travel to Cork or Dublin instead of making the shorter trip to Waterford.
However, the new plan aims to address this shortfall by providing a second cath lab and a new mortuary at University Hospital Waterford is also in the pipeline.
Speaking about the boost to hospital beds in Wexford General Hospital, Minister Kehoe said:
'Our health service needs extra capacity. We are recognising that by investing in more hospital beds and I am so delighted Wexford will benefit from this. In the past other parties in government reduced bed capacity. This was misguided and a mistake. We are reversing this and ensuring we have enough hospital beds in our county for our people.'
As somewhat of a caveat, Minister Harris added to the announcement: 'It is important to state the projects included in the plan are at different stages of development and, in some cases, significant work is still required to bring the projects to tender stage.'
Minister Harris and the Director General of the HSE Paul Reid are now expected to liaise with management at Wexford General to discuss how best to bring the new beds on stream.
'I would imagine it will require some kind of extension,' Minister Kehoe said. 'I'd imagine that the hospital is pretty much up to capacity at the minute, but they'll work with the HSE on this. This is very much the first stage, so decisions like that still have to be taken. 480 new beds are being provided across the country, so for Wexford to get 75 of them is a good chunk. It's something that's very much required as well, particularly with the ageing population and the amount of people choosing to retire in Wexford.'
Concerns have also been expressed about staffing levels at Wexford General. Minister Kehoe believes this is something that will also be addressed under the plan.
'Once you have more beds going in, more staff will be required,' he said. 'This doesn't just stop at beds. More staff will also be required as there's things like HIQA standards to adhere to.'