Concerns are increasing regarding the staffing situation at St Vincent’s Care Centre in Athlone, with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO ) set to take part in talks with the HSE this afternoon (Thursday ).
Last summer, 35 patients were moved to vacant beds in St Joseph’s Care Centre, Longford, Birr Community Nursing Unit, and to other public and private nursing facilities due to safety concerns. The plan was for the centre to re-open at the end of March, 2017.
Concerns regarding staffing issues were raised by local Fianna Fáil councillor, Aengus O’Rouke, after the centre failed to meet its re-opening deadline.
The HSE commented at the time that St Vincent’s would undergo a “phased reopening” while nursing staff were hired for the facility. However, more than a month later it is understood that the centre is still at less than 50 per cent occupancy, with just 17 patients returning.
“For months now I have been highlighting the issues at St Vincent’s Hospital, and I have warned time and time again that a deep deep crisis will hit the hospital unless the HSE take an immediate interest in the serious staffing and management issues that exist at the facility,” Cllr O’Rourke said this week.
“Make no mistake about it, St Vincent’s Hospital is in crisis and sooner rather than later it is going to hit a wall,” he added.
Cllr O’Rourke is calling on the HSE to immediately put a review team in place with no connection to St Vincent’s or Athlone to come in order to do a root and branch review of the management, staffing structure, and practices at St Vincent’s.
Dean Flanagan, INMO industrial relations officer for the Midlands, said: “I met with the INMO members from St Vincent’s last Thursday [May 11] in relation to ongoing issues they had brought forward since the reopening, so I have sought an urgent meeting with management.
“What the members have brought forward concern serious issues of staffing level concerns, the workload resulting from staffing levels, patient safety, and also access to senior management during the re-opening. There are other failings that we will be seeking to address.”