Councillor Francie Gilmartin said the HSE and Minister for Health Dr James Reilly should be “ashamed of themselves” for deciding to close down a further ten beds in St Patrick’s Hospital, Carrick-on-Shannon this year.
According to the HSE West Service Plan 2012 published this week, ten beds will close in St Patrick’s Hospital Carrick-on-Shannon, ten essential beds will also shut in Sligo General Hospital with a further 17 beds are to be taken away from St John’s in Sligo.
Home Help for the elderly has also been targeted for cuts - with a projection of over 100,000 hours being axed across the HSE West region in 2012. Major cut backs in home help hours have already been implemented in Leitrim and across the North West region from last month.
Cllr Gilmartin who has been highlighting the issue of St Patrick’s Community Hospital over the past year said the HSE will “keep picking at St Patrick’s until it is no longer viable to continue.” The 10 new bed closures follow on from 19 beds shut down last year, bringing the the number of beds in the community hospital to approx 85.
Cllr Gilmartin said Minister Reilly “does not realise that these community hospitals are a home from home for elderly people.” He said the HSE will “throw people out” of these ten beds and “send them home” but with no home help to care for them. He said “it does not add up.” The HSE has stated that they will also use private nursing homes to take surplus patients from public nursing homes, as the price per patient in a private nursing home is more economical.
The Keshcarrigan councillor said elderly people will be moved from their familiar surroundings to a different nursing home, probably out of their home area.
As the Leitrim Observer has highlighted before the HSE had noted that there are “significant challenges around the viability of units when you get below 50.” Both Aras Carolan, Mohill and Our Lady’s Hospital, Manorhamilton have under 50 beds occupied. Cllr Gilmartin believes the ongoing cut backs at St Patrick’s Hospital is part of a process to amalgamate all public nursing homes in the county.
Francie Gilmartin said many home help hours have been cut in Leitrim. Elderly people who received a half hour of care a day have been cut down to 15 minutes. “Just enough time to drive up, open the door and say hello. It is crazy,” the local Fianna Fail Councillor commented.
Almost w105m has been cut from this year’s HSE West Budget in an effort to row in with the Government’s programme. The plan says a “Rationalisation of all residential facilities” is be undertaken this year. The plan says the bed closures are due to “staffing pressures” and outlined “alternative capacity in the private nursing homes sector continues to be available in the North West.”
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