Claims that the health service is on the verge of collapse have been dismissed as “unhelpful” by Labour Galway West TD Derek Nolan who said “there is a plan in place” to meet the upcoming challenges.
Dep Nolan said the HSE West service plan 2012 presents “undoubted challenges for the operation of the health services in Galway”, but he said staff and management “know the difficulties that lie ahead” and will be able to deal with them.
He also said the new plan allows for some limited recruitment to replace staff who are leaving; two theatres in UHG are likely to re-open; and there has already been significant progress on reducing the Patient Targeting List, from 12 months to nine months by the end of the year.
Dep Nolan met with the CEO Bill Maher and the management team of Galway University Hospitals on Monday where they presented their plans to deal with a reduced budget in 2012. He said he was “very impressed with the new approach being taken by management” for introducing a “range of positive initiatives, such as new performance management structures and a plan to realign service provision in the west to “make it more effective and targeted”.
“This will yield significant improvements over time,” said Dep Nolan. “Indeed having discussed the matter with front-line staff they very much welcome the new clarity and leadership being shown.”
Dep Nolan said that despite the reduced budget, significant savings will be made from the reduction in the use of agency staff.
“Management outlined that the service plan will see no reduction in day case discharges, outpatient attendances, emergency department functions or maternity activity,” he said. “There will however be a minor reduction in in-patient discharges.”
Dep Nolan said that in the face of current difficulties, “front-line staff are doing an exceptional job in dealing with reduced numbers and budgets”.
“I am continually impressed by the dedication of those who work in the health service towards getting their jobs done,” he said, however he did accept that the staff moratorium is “causing real difficulty”.
“There is an onus on management in their recruitment this year to target those areas of real need,” he said. “Longer term, the new flexibilities that will be granted to GUH under its new legal structure will grant the hospitals greater flexibility over the use to which they put their budgets and the ability to work around the moratorium.”