Mount Carmel staff ‘stunned and distressed’ at closure

Union officer says many only found out about imminent closure through media reports

Fri, Jan 24, 2014, 21:18

The 330 staff of Mount Carmel Hospital in Dublin were said to be “stunned, shocked, and very distressed” tonight following the announcement that the hospital would be wound down following the appointment of provisional liquidators by the High Court earlier today.

Philip McAnenly, industrial relations officer with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), said many only found out about the imminent closure through media reports. He said one manager had only been informed when a journalist called him for his reaction, while one midwife was alerted to the news by a text from a sister living abroad who had read it online.

He said some of the midwives had worked there for over 30 years and were “stunned, shocked, and very distressed” at the news.

Mr McAnenly also disputed comments by Minister for Health James Reilly who said these jobs could be absorbed into the public sector.

Speaking earlier today, Mr Reilly said: “Many of the people in Mount Carmel are highly skilled people and they are people we need in our public health, and we will certainly be looking at every possibility and way of bringing them into the public sector.”

However, Mr McAnenly refuted this saying “the reality is that front line posts, including midwives, are included in the recruitment embargo - these are positions which cannot be filed under the [public sector recruitment] embargo”.

“The Government are now going to be paying out redundancies to 330 people who want to work. Nama are closing a service which is desperately needed in Dublin and patients in 130 beds are still going to need to find a hospital bed, those babies are still going to need to be born, so that’s being put in on top of an already overcrowded, overburdened health service,” Mr McAnenly said.

Reacting to the announcement that Mount Carmel would be wound down, Minister of Justice Alan Shatter said he was “saddened”, adding the hospital had provided caring medical and maternity services” for many decades with a compassionate and dedicated staff”.

“I can understand that this is a difficult time for all associated with the hospital and, in particular, the doctors, nurses, clerical and all other staff whose jobs may be lost. It is my hope that the engagement of the liquidator results in a continuation of the hospital under new management and all of the jobs presently at risk having some prospect of being saved,” he said.

Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Health, Billy Kelleher said his thoughts were with the staff and patients at Mount Carmel: “The sudden nature of this announcement will come as a shock to the staff and their families,” he said. “There are a number of issues that need to be addressed immediately to secure the safety of patients at the hospital.

“I am calling on hospital management, liquidators and the HSE to ensure there is a very clear flow of information to patients as to how they will be accommodated. There will be a considerable amount of concern by patients, which is entirely understandable, and every step must be taken to alleviate these concerns.

“Elective surgeries have been cancelled and we need to see their immediate rescheduling - patients cannot be the ones to suffer in this situation,” he added.