Local Fianna Fáil councillor, Aengus O’Rourke, has criticised the HSE on hearing confirmation that St Vincent’s Care Centre will be reopening on a phased basis.
Cllr O’Rourke had raised concerns at this month’s meeting of the Athlone Municipal District that the HSE was not on target to meet its March reopening deadline.
“My claims that I suspected the HSE didn’t have a full compliment of staff to open the hospital have now been proven correct,” Cllr O’Rourke said this week.
“I was accused of scaremongering by those trying to paint a picture of normality when in fact there is a staffing crisis at St Vincent’s, and I think that is now clear.
“I think the credibility of the HSE has been damaged through this process. If the writing was on the wall for the staff who came to me with this information, then how was it not on the wall for HSE management. It beggars belief. The dogs in the street knew it was coming; how didn’t the HSE?
“Of course, Government representatives are trying to say that this is all fine, but in my mind a phased reopening was not the deal. How do you phase patients back in? Who do you prioritise? That was not part of the deal.”
Fine Gael councillor and Mayor of Athlone, John Dolan, has moved to quell fears.
“I had a conversation with the HSE on this, and there is nothing abnormal about the phased reopening,” he said. “There is a lot of stories and a little bit of scaremongering going on here that is not justified. I think it is a little bit unfair on the patients and their families.
“Some staff have decided to retire and there are interviews being undertaken to fill those positions. What I understand is that there will be agency staff taken on in the meantime. But St Vincent’s will be fully staffed in the near future.”
The reopening of St Vincent’s on a phased basis will take place at the end of April.