HSE may reopen 16 closed beds at Mullingar

The HSE is considering proposals to bring 16 beds in Mullingar Hospital, which had remained closed for the summer period due to budget cutbacks, back into operation.

Figures published by the Irish Nurses Organisation (INO ) last week revealed that a total of 31 beds have been closed in the region’s hospitals, 16 at the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar and 15 in Tullamore.

The survey also revealed that the number of patients on trolleys in Mullingar hospital had shot up from just four in September 2007 to 26 in September 2009, an increase of 650 per cent, highlighting the levels of overcrowding at the hospital.

However, the HSE said this week that the beds which were closed during the summer period at Mullingar, as a result of the amalgamation of two wards, are now under consideration for reopening, while the situation in Tullamore is under review.

“Currently, the Midland Regional Hospital at Mullingar is considering proposals to reopen the beds closed during the summer period, while the Midland Regional Hospital at Tullamore is managing treatment capacity in line with activity targets and this includes decisions on beds available and closures. This will be reviewed on a continual basis.”

The HSE spokesperson added that the Midland Regional Hospitals at Tullamore and Mullingar are both operating ahead of planned activity levels up to August 2009, in comparison to levels for the same period last year.

“For the period January to August 2009, a total of 23,959 day case and in-patient procedures have been carried out at Tullamore Hospital, compared to 21,070 for the same period last year; at Mullingar Hospital 17,571 day case and in-patient procedures have been carried out compared to 17,188 for the same period last year,” read the statement.

The recent INO survey confirmed that there are 705 beds closed in hospitals nationwide, while the level of overcrowding in emergency departments across the country has increased by 31 per cent compared to September 2007.

“The extent of the bed closures, the impact of delayed discharges and the increasing level of A&E overcrowding when taken together, demonstrate the severity of the crisis already facing our health services,” said INO general secretary Liam Doran.

“When you add to this the impact of the Government embargo on staff recruitment, which saw almost 300 jobs (157 of which were nursing posts ) lost in July alone, it is self-evident that it is frontline services, staff and patients, who are being hit by these cuts despite the denials of the HSE and the Department of Health and Children.

“Notwithstanding our very difficult financial situation, the Government must prioritise the maintenance of frontline services and ensure that all available beds are open, frontline staff replaced and primary care services improved so that the sick in our society can access the quality of care they need and deserve.”


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