AN INSECT infestation forced HSE environmental health inspectors to close a canteen this Tuesday - at a hospital run by the HSE.
“The HSE, in enforcing food hygiene and environmental health standards in the private sector, has a significant obligation to apply the same standards to its own food preparation and serving areas,” a spokesman said in respect of the temporary closure of the staff canteen at St Joseph’s Hospital.
One source identified cockroaches as the culprits but the HSE was unable to clarify what kind of creepy crawlies were involved.
Meals for the 17 resident psychiatric patients at St Joseph’s have not been affected by the temporary closure. And the HSE rejected the view of one source that the action has as much to do with cost-cutting as hygiene standards.
“The canteen is spotless and the staff suspect they are doing it to save money. They have already closed it at weekends,” said the source this Wednesday.
But the HSE said that the only reason for the closure was “to expedite an insect eradication exercise which commenced last week” and “not for any other reason”.
The HSE acknowledged, however, that it was no longer viable to keep the canteen open at weekends and changes in the services provided on the campus - as psychiatric patients are moved to more appropriate community care settings - meant facilities will be reviewed long-term.
“The staff canteen closed at weekends, commencing only last weekend, as it was not cost-effective to allow it to remain open in view of the small numbers of staff using the facility at weekends.”
“While reduced patient numbers with an intention to have no patients and a changed profile of activity on the site does suggest a need to review the type of canteen facilities required in the future, and this will happen, there is absolutely no connection between the current temporary closure and any decisions being considered for the future.”
Canteen staff were this Wednesday “assisting with deep cleaning in the affected area”.
“Patient meals are not affected as they are cooked in the central kitchen in St Camillus Hospital and transported to St Joseph’s. This is the case also for staff meals. The food is served to patients in the patient’s dining room and is therefore unaffected by the closure of the staff canteen,” the spokesman said.