Cystic fibrosis unit can’t open until nurses are recruited, says Kathleen Lynch

TDs critical of ‘undue delay’ in opening facility in Cork

Minister of State for Health Kathleen Lynch: hospital is ‘actively recruiting nursing staff’. Photograph: Alan Betson

Minister of State for Health Kathleen Lynch: hospital is ‘actively recruiting nursing staff’. Photograph: Alan Betson

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There are difficulties in staffing the new inpatient cystic fibrosis unit in Cork University Hospital, Minister of State for Health Kathleen Lynch has told the Dáil.

“Recruitment of nurses is an issue not just for Cork University Hospital but also nationally and internationally,’’ she said. “I have been assured the hospital is actively recruiting nursing staff and will open the unit as soon as it can be safely and effectively staffed.’’

Ms Lynch said the National Recruitment Service had been asked to prioritise the unit.

“Unfortunately, it is not possible simply to move staff from other areas of the hospital,’’ she said. “Cystic fibrosis units have a higher nursing requirement and require dedicated staff.

“If any nurse was to walk in the door of the hospital today,” she said, “he or she would be offered a contract and a job.”

The Minister was replying to TDs Martin Ferris of Sinn Féin, Billy Kelleher of Fianna Fáil, and Independents Tom Fleming and Michael Healy-Rae.

Mr Ferris said he was a regular visitor to cystic fibrosis patients in the Mater hospital.

“Given their vulnerability to infection, the importance of a specialised ward cannot be overstated,’’ he said.

Mr Kelleher said it was extraordinary the Dáil was still debating the issue six months after the project was completed.

Mr Fleming said there was “an undue delay’’ in opening the 20-bed unit, which includes 10 designated single inpatient rooms for CF patients.

Mr Healy-Rae was joined by the others in commending Joe Browne and other individuals who started Build4Life for their massive fundraising efforts for many years.

“They stepped in when governments, past and present, let cystic fibrosis patients down,’’ he said.

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