A €2million funding shortfall has forced St John’s hospital in the city to close 20 beds.
The closures come on the heels of revelations that beds opened in the hospital last January were closed again after only four days.
In answer to a query from Health Forum West member, Cllr Malachy McCreesh (SF), it emerged that the hospital opened 15 beds for four days in January and used agency personnel to staff them.
The hospital’s chief executive Fearghal Grimes has confirmed that five more beds will be closed in addition to the 15 already closed due to nursing shortages.
The hospital states that this year’s preliminary Gross Expenditure budget is the lowest since 2004.
The Hospital has a total of 99 beds, comprising of 89 in-patient beds and ten day care beds.
A spokesperson said it has been clearly outlined to the HSE what the negative impact the level of funding will have on services.
Mr Grimes said he is in on-going contact with the HSE and is hoping that funding will be released shortly so that beds can be reopened.
Meanwhile, all in-patients are being looked after in the first and top floors on the hospital.
Deputy Willie O’Dea (FF) described the situation as “shortsighted, disgraceful and makes no sense whatsoever”.
“I am calling on the Minister for Health and the HSE to increase funding for the hospital immediately to allow for the reopening of the 20 closed beds,” he added.
A statement from the UL hospital group said the service plan commits the health service to operating within the limits of its notified funding and this is no different for hospital groups and for individual hospital.
“Financial and service planning at all acute hospitals is governed by the HSE National Service Plan.
“The Service Plan 2017 notes the significant financial pressures arising from the delivery of demand-led services. The plan commits the health service to operating within the limits of its notified funding and this is no different for hospital groups and for individual hospitals.
“UL Hospitals Group is focused on maximising efficiencies on minimising costs to protect services for our patients.
“It should be noted that the net annual allocation to St John’s Hospital has increased marginally from approx. €17.998m in 2016 to €18.264m in 2017. The annual net allocation for UL Hospitals Group (including St John’s Hospital) decreased from approx. €279.539m to €277.864m over the same period.
“UL Hospitals Group acknowledges the challenges faced by St John’s Hospital, which are similar to those faced by all hospitals within the group and around the country. We look forward to working with management at St John’s Hospital to ensure that the beds closed this Monday are reopened as soon as possible. It should be noted that 15 of these beds have been closed since early September 2016 due to nursing staff shortages. An additional five beds were closed this Monday.