Tipperary TD appeals to HSE chief to reopen palliative care beds at Carrick-on-Suir hospital 

Tipperary TD appeals to HSE chief to reopen palliative care beds at Carrick-on-Suir hospital 

St Brigid's Hospital in Carrick-on-Suir

Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath has written to HSE CEO Paul Reid pleading with him to urgently re-consider the continued closure of the Palliative Care Beds at St. Brigid’s Hospital in Carrick on Suir following his engagement with him at a meeting of the Special Oireachtas Committee on Covid-19.

He issued the call during National Palliative Care Week, which aims to raise awareness of the difference palliative care can make to people with life limiting conditions, carers and families throughout the island of Ireland.

St Brigid’s Hospital normally provides convalescent, respite and palliative care but was redesignated as a step down care facility for people recovering from the Covid-19 virus in April. The hospital is currently closed as there are currently no Covid-19 patients requiring step-down care. The Minister for Health has assured local politicians that St Brigid’s will reopen as a community hospital but hasn’t given a date as to when this will happen because of fears over a second wave of Covid-19 infections. 

Deputy McGrath, however, said the continued closure of 3 out of 7 of the palliative care beds in South Tipperary as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic is a shocking indictment on the mismanagement of our health critical services, which he claimed have been severely undermined as a result of continued closures and cut backs in services for those living with disabilities or terminal illnesses. 

“There are just seven Palliative Care beds serving all of South Tipperary. Three out of the seven hospice beds are located at St. Brigid’s Hospital in Carrick-on-Suir with two further beds located at both St. Theresa’s Hospital in Clogheen and Cluain Arann in Tipperary. Since the designation of St. Brigid’s Hospital as a Covid-19 Step down facility, the hospital has remained shut since mid April with no access to the palliative care facilities for those who require end of life care.

“It is absolutely shocking that these beds remain closed. The people of Carrick on Suir and South Tipperary and into Waterford and South Kilkenny fundraised to put these important beds in place and now they lie closed and unavailable to those who require care at a very difficult and sensitive time,” deputy McGrath continued. 

He raised the issue of St. Brigid’s Hospital directly with the HSE CEO Mr. Paul Reid during a recent meeting of the Special Oireachtas Committee on Covid 19.  

Mr. Reid responded this week in writing but has repeated the HSE’s stance that “during the ongoing Covid-19 public health emergency, there are no plans in the short term to resume St. Brigid’s customary usage for convalescent, respite and palliative care beds”.

Mr Reid continued that service resumption was dependent on the management of Covid related activity within the region along with the need to be assured that services can safely resume in a manner which is compliant with prevailing public health guidance and Health Act regulations.”

Deputy McGrath has again pleaded with Mr. Reid to re-consider this position particularly in light of the much-needed palliative care beds and reopen this section of the hospital immediately.

“We have a situation where absolutely nobody is taking accountability for this decision. We ask the Minister for Health and he refers it to the HSE and HSE management just repeat the mantra that it will remain closed for the foreseeable future.” 

“The hospice beds in St. Brigid’s are located in a separate part of the hospital so it would be entirely possible to bring these much-needed beds back into operation in the immediate term. All it takes is a little ingenuity from the HSE. To keep these beds closed while we celebrate the important work of our palliative care teams across the country is a matter of huge irony and despair.

“Regrettably the people of South Tipperary continue to require hospice beds as they face their end of life care regardless of Covid 19. That these much-needed beds remain closed is utterly appalling and I am again appealing to the HSE to reopen this facility as a matter of urgency,” he concluded.