News that a proposed 50-bed unit due to replace Saint Brigid’s Ward at Saint Patrick’s Hospital remains without funding approval has heightened local frustration with the Health Service Executive (HSE).

However, in a statement to The Munster Express, the HSE said that the development of the new Community Nursing Unit remained a “top priority”, with admissions for Saint Brigid’s no longer being accepted.

Responding to a Dáil question by Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghin O’Caoláin, Health Minister Mary Harney said the HSE is still approving its capital plan for the current year, therefore preventing her from commenting on individual projects.

Despite this, Local Health Manager for Waterford Dermot Halpin said the new standards now required for residential care “must move to address current shortcomings in our existing facilities”.

Stated Mr Halpin: “We have a responsibility to our elderly parents to ensure that the new and emerging standards for quality and safety are applied to their care; that we meet standards for infection prevention and control, environmental standards and fire and health and safety standards.

“For these reasons it is not viable to continue to accommodate patients in [St Brigid’s Ward], nor is it viable to refurbish the ward to the required standards.”

While patients will not be moved out of the hospital despite the closure of the upper floor ward, Mr Halpin said management will consult with patients and their families regarding their relocation “as vacancies arise on the ground floor”.

Regarding the 50-bed unit, Dermot Halpin stated: “Within HSE South, Waterford is identified as the top priority location for the next phase of this programme. It is anticipated that the detailed design and planning process can commence in the second half of 2009 with site investigations being advanced currently.”


See The Munster Express newspaper for a full report.