HIQA ultimatum on Sacred Heart Hospital

‘Upgrade it or close it’ warning

The health watchdog HIQA has demanded that the Sacred Heart Hospital in Roscommon town be either upgraded or closed, it has been claimed.

It’s understood that the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) issued a directive to that effect to the public nursing home this week.

Independent TD Denis Naughten says a letter was sent by HIQA to the Sacred Heart management in recent days. He said: “The hospital needs investment of about €11 million if it is to remain open under the current nursing home standards.

“And HIQA has now demanded that either the Sacred Heart Hospital is included in a new investment plan to be included in the Government announcement in advance of the Budget, or else it will be forced to close.” HIQA declined to comment. Renewed doubt was cast over the future of the facility last month when, in its latest inspection report, HIQA found it not to be a ‘safe and suitable premises’.

That judgment was largely based on the structure of the building, built in 1842, which they believe falls short of modern standards. Deputy Naughten has called on the Government to provide the funding required to ensure the hospital, which has 95 beds, remains open.

He said: “The fact that we need major refurbishment of the Sacred Heart Hospital is not a reason that it should close. “We’ve already lost our A&E, and we don’t want to see this valuable service for older people in Co. Roscommon lost due to a lock of urgently required investment. “Neither the residents not the dedicated staff deserve such treatment.”

Deputy Naughten said that he had made contact with Health Minister Leo Varadkar to ask him to take a direct role in securing the future of the hospital.

INMO’s ‘major concerns’ on future of Sacred Heart Hospital

The Irish Nurses’ and Midwives’ Organisation (INMO) have expressed “major concerns” about the future of the Sacred Heart Hospital in Roscommon town.

A report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) recently found that the facility was not a ‘safe and suitable premises’ for the residents. The watchdog made similar comments for many years. They believe that the historic building, built in 1842, falls significantly below modern standards.

Speaking this week, Regina Durcan, the industrial relations officer of the INMO, said that the hospital was on a very unstable footing. “I would have major concerns about the future of the Sacred Heart Hospital in Roscommon,” she said. “We don’t know what the future is. I am not sure if the management do. There needs to be changes to the hospital to meet HIQA standards.

“Unless that capital funding is forthcoming, there is a high possibility that there will be a reduction in services. “They will have to stop new referrals into the hospital, anyway. That is going to reduce the bed capacity, which would have a knock-on effect on emergency departments in Galway and Mayo.”

So far, the Government and the Health Service Executive have failed to allocate funding to the Sacred Heart Hospital to enable it to meet regulations. Numerous other nursing homes are in a similar position.

“The HSE have known for the last six years that the Sacred Heart Hospital needed capital funding to meet the environmental standards within HIQA,” said Ms Durcan. “That money hasn’t been provided so far. “If it is Government policy to reduce/close beds in the nursing home sector and privatise elderly care services, who knows what’s going to happen?”