HSE’s claim that hospital has ample beds is rejected
A CLAIM by the HSE that the demand for care in West Kerry is being met by the current number of beds in Dingle Community Hospital has been rejected as not reflecting the reality that families find it extremely difficult to get elderly people accepted into the hospital.
The hospital has been operating at eight beds below its full 54-bed capacity since it was first opened in 2010. Following protracted negotiations with both the health watchdog HIQA and the INMO nurses’ union, the HSE secured agreement in February 2017 to open eight additional beds to bring the hospital up to its full 54-bed capacity, but this was dependent on the recruitment of additional staff.
For nearly two years the HSE has been trying to recruit nurses and nursing assistants for the hospital but with no success. As a result the promised eight extra beds have remained closed and this problem has been compounded by the more recent closure of five of the existing beds because of staff shortages.
With the hospital now operating at 13 beds below its full capacity The Kerryman posed a series of questions to the HSE asking about the progress of the recruitment campaign. In response the HSE issued a statement last week saying that: “Although not all beds are open at West Kerry Community Hospital, it is important to point out that there is no waiting list for beds at the community hospital, either long-stay or short-stay. The demand for care in the area is being met by the current number of beds.”
The HSE statement added that, “we continue to recruit at West Kerry Community Hospital, continuing on extensive efforts to attract staff to the area”.
The HSE also confirmed that “recruitment is about to begin for a Director of Nursing and a nurse manager” for the hospital.
Commenting on the HSE’s response, Cllr Seamus Cosaí Mac Gearailt said this week that there is abundant evidence of people unsuccessfully seeking to get a bed in Dingle Hospital.
“I realise that that they’re trying to recruit staff, but I don’t agree that there is an adequate number of beds in the hospital,” he said. “There’s a huge demand for beds from the local area… you would regularly hear people complaining about how difficult it is to get into Dingle Hospital.”
Many elderly local people who are currently resident in nursing homes and hospitals outside of West Kerry would love to get back to Dingle but they can’t because there is no space for them in the hospital, he said.
“Maybe they [the HSE] had enough beds on the day the statement was written,” he added.