CF deal not always kept: HSE
St Vincent’s Hospital and the Health Service Executive have admitted an agreement last July on the provision of specialised beds for cystic fibrosis patients has not always been adhered to.
Representatives of the hospital and the HSE were called before the Oireachtas health committee this morning after controversy last month over delays in admitting sick CF patients to a specialised unit opened in the summer.
Up to six CF patients could not be admitted immediately due to pressure on beds from other patients. The new Nutley wing provides 20 beds for CF patients in single rooms to minimise the risk of infection, but there are disagreements over protocols for filling a further 34 beds in the unit.
St Vincent’s chief executive Nicholas Jermyn told the committee the hospital had at times been “challenged” to accommodate the demand from CF patients and there had been situations when it could not get in all those who sought admission.
At the time the backlog built up last month, the hospital was dealing with an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug, but all patients had been admitted within 24 hours. It could be difficult late at night to suddenly find beds.
He said all sorts of patients required the isolation facilities needed for CF patients. St Vincent’s has 45 medical specialities and 550 beds, of which 126 had en-suite bathroom facilities. That meant that CF patients accounted for one in four of this type of accommodation.
Mr Jermyn said the opening of the new facilities was a fabulous news story, but what had happened last month was undermining the confidence of patients and was affecting staff morale.
Independent Senator Prof John Crown said it was depressing that five months after the opening of a much-heralded facility there was talk of late-night crisis meetings to resolve problems. This was “the politics of the last healthcare atrocity”, he said.
Both he and Senator Jillian van Turnhout said they were not reassured by what they had heard. Prof Crown criticised the evidence given as “waffle” and said he was not convinced there was any credible plan to ringfence sufficient beds for CF patients, particularly when a severe winter could be on the way.
Hospital and HSE representatives have been asked to report back to the committee on discussions with the CF Association of Ireland in three months.