Cystic Fibrosis beds issue is being tackled, says Drumm


An interim solution to tackle the shortage of hospital beds for Cystic Fibrosis (CF) patients could be in place early next year, the Health Service Executive (HSE) said yesterday.

Prof Brendan Drumm, chief executive of the HSE, said a plan to cater for CF patients between now and the opening of a new 120-bed unit at St Vincent's Hospital in 2010 was being worked on.

"We are hoping that we will have vacated space in St Vincent's in the next three to four months that will allow for the development of these single rooms."

Prof Drumm told RTÉ News the completion of the plans could take a further eight to nine month after that because "these are very major developments".

He said he could not promise a much improved situation by the end of this year but that he has a significant personal interest in CF and that he has been working very hard to provide extra resources in the area.

"I think we could get an interim solution ahead of 2010 and I'm saying we can get a superb solution by 2010. I'm also saying we need to look at other hospital sites where some of this capacity could be put," he said.

"The HSE had put more resources into Cystic Fibrosis support staff in the past two years than has ever been seen prior to this in the country.

"We now have staffing for CF in this country that is beyond anyting in comparative countries in the world and that has moved from a situation where we were at the worst. I think that is a hell of a lot of progress in two years," he said.

Earlier this week, the Minister for Health, Mary Harney, said the possibility of accommodating CF patients in single rooms in private hospitals until proper facilities are provided for them in the public system will be looked at.

The Beacon Hospital in South Dublin has been suggested as a potential facility and Ms Harney said she was open to "anything that worked for patients".

She said the idea would be looked at to see whether it was possible to combine the clinical expertise now available at St Vincent's with physical facilities at the Beacon.

Ms Harney also stressed that since she became Minister for Health some €9 million had been invested in Cystic Fibrosis services.

Prof Drumm said the health service "absolutely" had challenges in terms of the provision of single rooms and the HSE has worked "very actively" with St Vincent's Hospital to put them in place.

"They have a challenge that where we were going to put them in place would block them in developing a 120-bedded unit that they have been working with us on delivering that has presented a challenge but we are still working with them in putting in an interim situation," he said.