Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Questions (304)

Róisín Shortall


304. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health his views on reports that the HSE plans to close the elms ward in St Mary’s Hospital, Phoenix Park; and his plans to ensure that the facility remains open. [30387/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

St Mary’s Hospital in the Phoenix Park provides 150 long term residential beds, located across two modern purpose-built units.  The hospital also provides 75 sub-acute or short stay beds, located separately in the main hospital building which dates back to the 18th century.

A recent Health and Safety Assessment identified significant patient and staff safety risk issues in the main building and in particular on Elms Ward. The risks identified relate to safety, fire safety management, layout, size, age, fixtures, fittings and lighting. Environmental risks were identified in relation to safe evacuation of patients. Elms Ward was found to have significant risk to patients and staff due to its uneven floor.

To comply with legislative requirements, and in the best interests of patients and staff, the HSE needs to close the ward on a phased basis with effect from 1st July 2019, to be completed by August. This decision was based solely on health and safety concerns, and not as a cost saving measure.  There will be some reduction in access to transitional care beds from acute settings, however, all patients will remain in the Hospital until their current care is completed. The Department has been assured that all commitments for booked respite care will be honoured and plans are being put in place to that effect. 

Staff were advised of this decision through consultation with their line management and they will be reassigned within the Hospital. The HSE has advised the Department that significant capital is required to address the health and safety issues and part of the project development process will be to examine all options available to provide safe services.

The primary focus must be on patients.  Engagement with them, their families, staff, union representatives and any other relevant stakeholders is on-going to ensure minimal impact for all concerned during the closure of the ward.