HIQA denies it ordered elderly bed closures
The HSE is closing around one fifth of the long-stay beds at one of Ireland's largest geriatric hospitals, St Mary's in the Phoenix Park in Dublin, in order, it says, to meet HIQA quality and safety requirements.
However, HIQA has told irishhealth.com that while it is currently discussing quality and safety issues with St Mary's, it has not recommended that any beds should be closed there.
The HSE says it is closing 41 long-stay beds at the north-Dublin hospital, leaving 186 long-term care beds there, in addition to 100 intermediate stroke/rehab beds for older persons. This would mean a reduction of 18% in St Mary's long-term beds.
In a recent parliamentary response to Sinn Fein Deputy Mary Lou McDonald, the HSE said HIQA had visited St Mary's as part of its long-stay care registration process.
Denying that there were any plans to close down St Mary's completely, the HSE said services within the hospital were being 'reconfigured' to meet HIQA requirements.
This reconfiguration included the reduction of 41 long-term care beds, leaving 186 long term beds and around 100 intermediate care/stroke rehab beds for older persons across the north Dublin area.
A HIQA spokesman told irishhealth.com that while it was currently engaging with St Mary's on a number of issues relating to quality and safety, it had not recommended the closure of any beds there.
HIQA said it had not published an inspection report on St Mary's since 2010.
It is expected that HIQA will publish reports on recent inspections of and engagement with St Mary's in about a month's time.
Asked what the issues currently being discussed with St Mary's were, HIQA said it could not comment on this at present for legal reasons.
A HSE spokesperson told irishhealth.com that one ward had already been closed at St Mary's, with a second ward now in the final stages of closure, resulting in an overall reduction of approximately 41 long stay beds.
"These beds were located in the older parts of St Mary's and by their nature were unfit for purpose and did not comply with the infrastructural requirements stipulated by the Health Act of 2007 and the HIQA standards for care of older poeple."
As a result, the spokesperson said, the HSE made the decision to close these beds. The majority of these residents have transferred to other facilities following consultation with the residents and their families, with the remaining residents transferred or in the process of being transferred to other units within St Mary's.
The HSE said the remaining beds in the hospital were being reconfigured and will provide specialist rehabilitation and community response services in line with the HSE's clincial care programmes.
Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch told the Dail recently that following an inspection by HIQA towards the end of last year, the HSE decided to close two wards at St Mary's.
"It should also be noted that at the time of building the new community nursing units at St Mary’s Hospital in 2008 it was envisaged that bed numbers in the older part of the hospital would reduce," the Minister said.
The HSE said St Mary's had now put forward 186 beds for registration with HIQA, which are accessed through the Fair Deal scheme.
HIQA inspections of St Mary's in 2010 found the hospital to be well organised with a satisfactory standard of medical and nursing care.
It said residents and relatives were complimentary of the staff and generally positive in their comments on the care provided.
However, HIQA identified a number of issues that needed addressing, including some accommodation that did not meet its standards, and the lack of a risk management policy.
The inspection at the time noted that some windows at the hospital did not have window restrictors in place, there was evidence of general disrepair in some areas, lack of consultation with residents or their representatatives in the use of restraint, lack of proper vetting procedures for some staff, and the lack of training of some staff in elder abuse.
The HSE in repsonse at the time, said it was implemeting or had already implemented HIQA's recommendations.
The HSE's service plan for 2012 provides for the closure of around 800 beds in public long-stay facilities around the country.
[Posted: Mon 30/04/2012]