THE decision to reduce bed numbers at Castlecomer District Hospital will have grave consequences for community patients and respite care in north Kilkenny, according to Cllr Maurice Shortall.
“Due to staffing shortages and the Government moratorium there have been a significant amount of unofficial bed closures throughout the year and we had hoped that as the staff situation improved beds would re-open,” he pointed out.
“Presently there are 15 patients at the hospital, well short of the 28 bed capacity and the decision by the HSE to effectively reduce bed numbers by 10 means that for 2012 no more than 18 patients will be accommodated at Castlecomer District Hospital at any one time,” he said.
“With two more nurses and an attendant due to retire this month we have to bite the bullet that is the Moratorium sooner rather than later,” the Labour councillor fumed.
Visiting the Hospital on Friday Cllr Shortall, who is also Treasurer of the Friends of Castlecomer District Hospital, was at pains to re-assure patients and staff that it would be business as usual in the facility albeit at a reduced number of beds. He was very critical of the fact that the announcement was made publicly before staff, patients and local representatives were made aware of the news.
“Ironically, phase one of an extension jointly funded by the HSE and the Friends of Castlecomer District Hospital has only recently been opened. It comprises of an admissions area, resource room, toilet and improved access. Phase two was to incorporate a 4 bed palliative care bed unit. The reduction in services is like a slap in the face to a community who have dug deep into their pockets to ensure our senior citizens are afforded dignity and care in their remaining years,” he said.