Hospital to lose up to 20 nurses as cuts kick in

Despite its status as the third best hospital in the country, the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar’s share of expected HSE cuts will lead to the loss of up to 20 experienced nursing staff within the next month, the Advertiser has learnt.

The budget allocation for the hospital is also expected to be cut by an estimated €4.5 million, which would equate to 8 per cent of its 2011 funding of €56.9m.

However, it is felt this reduction would not be as problematic as the loss of the staff, as it almost exactly matches the hospital’s overspend for last year.

The staff are taking early retirements in line with the policy of staff reduction in the public sector and will go before pension allocations are reduced in February. The four-year recruitment moratorium means they will not be replaced.

A senior source at the hospital warned: “There are dark days ahead”, and lamented the loss of such experience to the hospital.

These cuts have not yet been fully sanctioned as the Department of Health asked the HSE last week to revise its programme of implementation, and no new date has yet been set.

In the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar there are at present 320 nurses, and 202 beds.

The hospital in Mullingar delivers just over 3,000 babies each year, and expects to have the biggest maternity unit in the nation outside Dublin by 2015. Its accident and emergency department treats approximately 90 people each day, and it admits an average of 52 patients each day.

In 2010 the Mullingar hospital was revealed as the third best out of the 27 teaching, regional, and general hospitals in the State, behind Wexford General and St James’s in Dublin.

For each of the last two years the hospital had additional budget allocations made to the tune of €2.5 million and €2.3 million because of its improvements in services, patient throughput, and reduced waiting lists.

In the State’s December budget it was announced that €480 million worth of savings woud be made across the HSE, and since then Health Minister James Reilly has said that he’s looking for another €868 million worth of cuts next year. In 2011 the HSE overspent by €170 million.

The HSE is the State’s biggest employer with a staff pool of 67,000 full-time staff, and 35,000 contracted and agency staff. A total of 2,600 staff have applied for the early leaving package.

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