News that there are to be no further service cuts to Louth County Hospital in 2014, and that the HSE are recruit 40 full time positions from those previously filled by agency nurses have been welcomed.
A decision has also been made regarding the ongoing issue of the laundry, which has over a year been transported to Our Lady of Lourdes. The service of is now to be privatised.
“There will also be a reopening of a medical ward in the Louth Hospital, which will make 17 beds available up until the summer. It will be closed over the summer holiday before being reopen later in the year,” said Peter Fitzpatrick, who earlier in the week met with HSE management.
“The fact that the HSE is taking on new permanent staff,which is likely be filled by current agency staff, has to be welcomed.”
Deputy Fitzpatrick elaborated on the decision to privatise the laundry service., and also guaranteed that there would be no job losses as a result of the outsourcing of the service.
“The current laundry service is just not adequately equipped to deal with 2.7 million items of laundry a year. To build a green field laundry has been costed and would come in at €6.8 million, and that would not include the cost of the site, so this was the best option.
“All staff currently employed at the laundry will be redeployed locally. There will be no job losses.
“Minister Reilly has said to me personally that he considers Louth County Hospital as one of the best hospital in the country. It has a fantastic future ahead of it.”
Cllr Tomas Sharkey was more circumspect about the privatisation of the laundry.
“The amazing part of this story is that the HSE manager I met on the issue on Thursday doesn’t know how much it will cost to put the work out to private tender. Approximately 2,700,000 (2.7m) items are laundered between our hospitals each year.
“It is beyond belief that at a time when costs need to be cut to save money and protect patient services that the HSE hasn’t fixed a broken boiler in Dundalk. Privatising laundry services for our hospitals will create a new bill each and every year and will cost mire in the long run than fixing and replacing existing equipment.”