THE closure of 25 beds at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital has gone ahead as planned this week in spite of an eleventh-hour appeal by nurses.
Staff at the hospital told the Limerick Leader that beds - including 27 on a children’s ward - had already been closed prior to the decision the HSE announced last week as part of a cost-containment plan.
But the HSE has issued a statement that the paediatric unit in question, known as the Sunshine Ward, was reopened on Sunday following “a two-week seasonal closure”.
The women’s surgical ward 1B has closed from this week but an additional 13 surgical beds which had been closed were also reopened on Monday as part of what the HSE said was “the planned reconfiguration of beds”.
Changes are also being planned for Ward 4C but “the net effect of the reconfiguration is a total reduction in overall bed capacity of 25”. “Management at the hospital met with the INMO and SIPTU nursing representatives on Wednesday last to discuss reconfiguration of beds within the hospital and the planned total reduction in overall bed capacity of 25 (14 surgical and 11 medical),” the Executive added.
It is understood the unions appealed to the HSE to postpone the bed cuts but the HSE had pressed ahead with the measures this week.
Unions are also concerned about the effect of the planned 50 per cent reduction in agency and overtime costs will have on patient care and on the morale of hundreds of nursing staff in Dooradoyle.
The Regional Hospital faces a deficit of around €15 million, the highest overspend of any hospital in the country. And with Government ministers including Michael Noonan there is no extra money for hospitals, the HSE has set about cutting costs which it says it hopes will have the least impact on front-line services.