Health Briefing

 

A round-up of other news stories in brief

Navan closure based on RCSI advice, Harney says

THE CONTROVERSIAL decision by the Health Service Executive to end acute surgery at Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan without any advance warning was taken because the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) advised that it should cease immediately, Minister for Health Mary Harney has said.

She said the college sent the HSE’s director of quality and clinical care, Dr Barry White, a letter saying the surgery “must cease forthwith” and the HSE had to act immediately “from a patient safety perspective and indeed from a legal perspective”.

She said the HSE would have left itself open to “possible litigation” if it didn’t take advice from a body like the RCSI. “I want to welcome their involvement in this and other areas because the hospital system is going to go through major reconfiguration over the next while in preparation for the licensing of our hospital system in 2012,” she added.

A recent e-mail sent by the president of the RCSI, Prof Eilis McGovern, to Dr White and seen by The Irish Timesnoted there were “serious safety issues around surgery in Navan”. Prof McGovern listed a number of options to solve the issues including triaging patients in the emergency department and transferring any patient that needed a surgical admission to another hospital.

Meanwhile, unions representing medical, nursing and other staff at the hospital are due to meet the HSE at the Labour Relations Commission on Thursday .

 HSE to go ahead with Cherry Orchard plans

THE HSE plans to proceed with its proposal to reduce services at an acute unit catering for 17 people suffering with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia at Cherry Orchard Hospital in Dublin.

Only three patients remain in the Laurel unit, which until last week catered for 18 patients. Relatives of patients are now concerned that the HSE plans to close the unit indefinitely.

The HSE had previously assured relatives that eight patients would be transferred to vacant beds around the hospital, while the other nine patients would remain in the unit.

Relatives and local campaigners oppose the cuts and have held several demonstrations in recent weeks to voice their concerns.

Local councillor Brid Smith of People Before Profit condemned the decision to proceed with the cuts and called on the HSE to examine the possibility of employing the necessary staff to keep the unit open.

“It is a disgraceful decision and one that has been bitterly opposed by the families and the entire community. Closing the unit will deprive many families in west Dublin of decent professional healthcare.”

The HSE originally said it planned to combine services between the Laurel unit and an adjacent unit on a long-term basis due to 22 nursing vacancies that cannot be filled because of the public service recruitment embargo.

Relatives and local campaigners met HSE officials last month who asked for two weeks to respond. However, the officials never responded and began moving the patients, said Ms Smith.

Value in healthcare comes into focus

Healthcare in Ireland: Good if you can afford it?is the title of the next Irish Times/Pifzer health forum. It will be held in Limerick Institute of Technology on September 28th. Among the speakers will be Labour’s spokeswoman on health, Jan O’Sullivan (above), Dr John Barton, consultant cardiologist at Portiuncula Hospital, Co Galway, and Ciaran O’Neill, professor of health technology assessment, Department of Economics, NUI Galway, Admission is free. To register, e-mail healthforums@oligvy.com or phone Orla Dormer on 01-6690030.