FINE Gael’s Deputy Kieran O’Donnell has said the future of St John’s Hospital “as a vital part of the hospital network in Limerick and the Mid-West” is assured.
And hospital chief executive Fearghal Grimes has said no further cutbacks in A&E are being planned for the hospital by the HSE.
St John’s was one of 10 hospitals listed on a HSE briefing document to the Dail’s Public Accounts Committee where the HSE had concerns over patient safety. The list also included Roscommon General Hospital, which had its A&E downgraded this week, and Mallow, which is to follow suit in November.
A&E opening hours at St John’s have already been reduced this year but Mr Grimes said nothing further was on the cards. HSE concerns at St John’s centred on the availability of round-the-clock anaesthetic cover in respect of its small intensive care unit but Mr Grimes said this had already been addressed.
“The reason St John’s was on that list was that, historically, it has had a three-bed intensive care unit but there was not 24-hour anaesthetic cover in-house here. That was identified as a risk by the HSE last year,” Mr Grimes explained.
“On March 28, the hospital board made the decision to transfer those patients to the Regional Hospital,” he said.
While formalities had to be finalised, Mr Grimes said that St John’s ICU had already shut down in practice.
“Any patient who now requires critical care is stabilised and transferred to the Regional. Since that date, we haven’t been dealing with critically ill patients.”
St John’s A&E would continue to operate from 8am to 6pm dealing with less serious cases such as fractures. “There is no reason for concern over the future of services,” Mr Grimes said.