The HSE announces raft of cuts to Louth County Hospital

The HSE say that Louth County Hospital will be reduced to as little as 18 beds

The HSE say that Louth County Hospital will be reduced to as little as 18 beds

THE HSE have revealed a raft of savage cuts that will see services at Louth County Hospital effecticely crippled.

Speaking to the Democrat yesterday Cllr Tomas Sharkey described the cuts as massive blow to the hospital and told the paper that there is a “crisis of confidence” at the hospital now.

“It makes a lie of all the good news announcements that Fine Gael TD’s tried to make. They are also going to cut back on the X-ray service in Louth County Hospital. And this comes after the X-Ray scandal of just a few years back.”

Cllr Sharkey also noted that staffing numbers at Our Lady of Lourdes had reached a dangerously low level.

The HSE said:

The Louth Meath Hospital Group as with all other hospitals, must comply with its statutory obligations and remain within its allocated budget. Every effort will continue to be made to do that in a way that has the least impact on patients and clients.

Senior Management at Louth Meath Hospital Group are meeting with staff union representatives today and advising staff on the range of cost containment measures to be introduced in Louth Meath Hospitals.

Earlier this month, in an instruction to the Hospital Group Senior Management Team, Stephen Mulvany, DO said ‘The LMHG faces a real crisis which will require leadership from the Senior Management Team to address, in order to protect the continued viability of the range of services currently provided to the local population.’ He said ‘The measures now needed are not simply about saving money, they are very much about saving services’

Cost containment initiatives that must be implemented include the elimination of spending in relation to overtime and the phased reduction of agency costs which are unfunded.

The projected Louth Meath Hospital Group expenditure for 2012 on Agency and Overtime (excluding junior doctor medical overtime) is in the region of €16.7m and with a deficit heading for in excess of €20m, this unfunded agency / overtime must all be eliminated before year end, so that Louth Meath Hospital Group can start 2013 at a monthly expenditure level which is at least close to its 2012 budget.

To address this deficit the following actions will be implemented:

Overtime will not be permitted in all professions except NCHDs from 1st September 2012

A Reduction of at least 50%, compared to 2011 utilisation of agency, in all professions will be implemented by 1st October 2012.

Specific instructions will be introduced in relation to caps on agency utilisation and use of agency staff will not be permitted from 1st December 2012 Hospital management authority to engage or pay for agency has been formally withdrawn.

The range of measures to be implemented will include the following :

33 transitional care beds are being commissioned from private and public providers. Clinically discharged patients in Louth County Hospital (LCH) will be transferred to these beds and the ward will close from beginning of September. The average 6 to 8 surgical patients in LCH will be accommodated in the stroke ward.

The use of three escalation beds in the medical wards in Our Lady’s Hospital Navan (OLHN) will discontinue. These beds are currently unfunded within the hospitals budget. On average there are 10 clinically discharged patients in OLHN. The commissioning of the 33 transitional care beds will avoid the need to use the escalation beds.

The Day Ward in OLOL will only be used for day cases as is its intended purpose. Accordingly it will close at night and at weekends and will operate within its funded level.

·The elective theatre in OLHN will not reopen for another 4 weeks as the number of cases completed to date is ahead of service plan targets

A facility for minor ops will be provided in the day ward and OLHN, and gynaecology lists will continue on Friday

Christmas Orthopaedic Theatre closures will be extended. This will facilitate planned floor and washer replacement work.

A rolling closure of one theatre in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital (OLOL) will take place from beginning of September for a period of five to six weeks to facilitate certification of the air handing system. This temporary reduction in theatre capacity will reduce our demand for critical care beds. Accordingly there will be a be a closure of one critical care bed/high dependency bed

The Acute Medical Assessment Unit will revert to the hours of operation that were originally funded, ie. sixteen hours a day, seven days a week. This unit was originally funded by the Special Delivery Unit and subsequently one million euro was provided to maintain this service along with the post of a Microbiologist.

16 Beds on the 6th Floor in OLOL will close temporarily. The remaining beds will amalgamate into a one ward structure. An additional 8 medical beds were commissioned, under the SDU/ISD funding referenced earlier, in January, these beds will remain open.

Margaret Swords Manager Louth Meath Hospital Group said ; “As additional detail is finalised it will be shared with staff and staff representatives . Management realise the enormity of the task facing us, however in order to build sustainability into our services for the future and to prepare for 2013 it is essential that we implement these instructions, maintain them and work together to ensure minimal impact on our patients and and clients. In this respect I wish to thank staff for their ongoing support and commitment.”

Recent data gathered from the hospitals in Dublin North East very clearly identifies variations in staffing levels across DNE. This data was based on a very extensive sample i.e. 36 wards totally approx 1,000 beds. The data clearly shows that some of the hospitals have ward care staffing levels which are not sustainable.This data highlights the need for specific skill mix and rostering initiatives if we are to protect the viability of our services particularly as we face into at least another two years of further budget and staffing reductions. This data has been shared with each of the hospitals and the Unions.