Suppliers to lose millions from plan to close Mayo General Hospital stores

A plan is in place to close down the stores department at Mayo General Hospital which employs 28 staff and has been recognised as an award winning and cost-saving centre of excellence, according to Dr Jerry Cowley, Labour party general election candidate for Mayo, who added that such a move will result in local suppliers losing millions in revenue and put patient care at risk.

Dr Cowley made the claims after studying a €300,000 HSE commissioned Price Waterhouse Cooper report on hospital procurement services, in which it is recommended that operations be moved to main hubs and cities from Tullamore to Ardee, and said, as a result, local suppliers will be out of pocket by several millions.

“What this means is that a state-of-the-art centre in Castlebar operating an innovative and award winning clean warehouse and barcoding system, which has already saved the HSE over €2.8 million, is now to be taken out of the county by the HSE, but then rolled out for stores departments in other counties to use.

“Basically their ideas have been lifted by the HSE to implement nationally in other locations, when instead 70 or 80 jobs could have been created in Mayo to supply the western region.”

Dr Cowley added that the move would also have serious implications for patients “because if they need something in a hurry it will now have to come from Sligo or Tullamore. The 28 staff have been told they will be offered work in Tullamore, Galway, Sligo, or be redeployed but they are specialists at what they do and have developed the system very much on a team approach in Mayo. They have worked together to learn the system which is a model of excellence through Limerick University and they are in line for an award at the upcoming National Procurement Awards 2010 on November 16 which recognises innovation and performance.

“These people are experts running a state-of-the-art operation and people from Coca Cola and locations far and wide have come to see how the system works.

“To rub salt into the wounds it now looks like Mayo will be taken out of the equation altogether which is absolutely ludicrous. Already the stores manager has been directed to report to Waterford or Cork, instead of to the hospital manager as usual, so it has already been taken out of our hands and Mayo General will no longer have any say in suppliers

Following a meeting with staff at the hospital stores, Dr Cowley is now calling on the HSE not to downgrade the successful facility and has promised to lobby the Minister for Health on the matter.

“I call on all other public representatives in the county to join me to ensure that Mayo General Hospital’s stores department is protected. If it can't be maintained in Castlebar, the HSE should consider using a central town in Connacht, Claremorris for example, as a base for any new centralised stores for the counties involved which include Galway, Sligo, and Roscommon. This could also facilitate the retention of the excellent staff I met today in the county, serving the needs of the health service in the region as a whole. If properly managed this could mean 70 to 80 jobs for the Claremorris area.”

A response from the HSE on the issue was not forthcoming before the Mayo Advertiser went to print.


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