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Ward Closure In Kerry General Hospital. 19/12/07



The HSE has announced the closure of a 29 bedded surgical ward for a two week period from Monday, December 24th, 2007 to Monday, January 7th, 2008 in Kerry General Hospital.  They have portrayed this as a seasonal closure when in fact it is directly attributable to the on-going shortage of nurses and midwives within the hospital.

Michael Dineen, INO Industrial Relations Officer commented:

“It is regrettable that the HSE would seek to present the closure of this ward as being solely attributable to seasonal factors.  It was inevitable that a decision to close a ward would have to be taken given the critical lack of nursing and midwifery staff within Kerry General Hospital for some time.”

The shortage of staff at the hospital has existed for a number of years and resulted in a staffing review, over the past two years, by an independent expert, Ms Edna Cobain, who reported in September 2007 and clearly indicated that there was a considerable shortage of nursing, care assistant, portering and non nursing staff within Kerry General.  The service to date has been maintained through the trojan efforts of nursing staff within the hospital. However, their ability to maintain that level of service is now seriously challenged because recruitment initiatives, which should have been in place for some months, have not taken place within an appropriate timeframe due to the on-going recruitment embargo. The fact that local management are required to go through a process of derogation which, in itself, is time consuming, is also leading to a delay in the recruitment process.

The shortages within Kerry General are such that it is difficult to see how the requisite staff will be in place by January 7th in order to ensure the maintenance of present levels of service. The already critical staffing situation will be further exacerbated from January next due to non replacement of staff on maternity leave etc. Therefore it would seem inevitable that services within the hospital will continue to be curtailed well into 2008 unless a dedicated recruitment campaign is rolled out immediately.

Mr Dineen continued: “Contrary to the assertion by the HSE that services will not be adversely affected, the loss of 29 beds to the hospital will inevitably lead to overcrowding in A&E and all other departments over what is the busiest period in the health services.  There will be shortages of up to 40 nurses from January within the present complement and when one factors in the additional staff identified within Ms Cobain’s report the actual shortage will be in excess of 100 staff.

It is somewhat ironic that the services in Kerry are being run in this fashion in the week following the announcement that the HSE South returned nine million euro that they had failed to spend in 2007.”





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