We have come a long way since 2010, says Wexford Hospital Clinical Director
Wexford General Hospital's Clinical Director Dr Colm Quigley has defended the facility, saying its staff are doing everything they can to ensure patient care and dignity, adding that the hospital is in a far better place today than where it was in 2010.
Dr Quigley said: 'I have a definite view on where we are in terms of the service we provide for our patients. It is recognised by the Ireland East group of hospitals that we don't have as many consultants for our patient load.'
The hospital has 1044 full and part time staff, the equivalent of 889 full time jobs. There are 430 nurses, (354 whole time nursing positions), which compares to 380 full time nursing positions in 2009 and 306 full time nursing positions in 2011.
There are 32 consultants, up from 24 in 2011.
There were 35,269 people treated at the hospital's emergency department in 2015, up 5 per cent on 2014. The total number of admissions was 16,838 in 2015, up slightly on 2014. The total number of outpatients was 49,312 last year, up five per cent on 2014, while the number of deliveries was down by 91 to 1,880 in 2015.
Dr Quigley said the longest waiting lists for Wexford patients are for orthopaedic and eye and ear procedures which are handled through University Hospital Waterford.
Dr Quigley said: 'We are having difficulty in keeping some of the endoscopy waiting lists under control because the demographic is increasing, so we had to increae the number of people who do the relevant tests. If you look at where we have come from in terms of the shortfall from 2010, I think things have really improved tremendously. Especially if you look at this against the background of major cutbacks in space and staff which had happened in 2010 the current government, the HSE and the Department of Health have done their best.'
Dr Quigley said the number of patients being treated on trolleys has fallen dramatically due to extra beds in hospital wards, but he acknowledged that more staff are needed.
'If there is a delay in getting a bed it's often for isolation reasons. People are sometimes kept in emergency department isolation so you can say they are being kept there beyond time but often these are fitter, younger patients who may be discharged home.'
Dr Quigley said a new emergency department consultant is currently being appointed, along with extra staff so surgical and medical doctors will no longer have to provide cover between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. in the department, which is paricularly busy on weekends and at night time.
He said: 'Over the last year it's all very well to say we need more of everything but it's difficult to recruit and fill posts at the moment. We advertised for six operating theatre nurses and we had no applicants. The contract says two years but we can guarantee that these jobs are permanent here in Wexford.'
He added: 'What has really improved things is the new management structure through the Ireland East hospital group. It's a very sensible way of doing things and services will continue to improve. That is not to say that there are not challenges. It will take time to address and improve this.'
He said the opening of the new maternity ward has been delayed slightly, adding that it should be completed by the target date of March 11.
He said renovations and fire safety works have been carried out, adding that the hospital will be a 'wi-fi' hospital' in April.
'At the end of March we will have had two years of renovations, repairs and fire safety works, along with the upgrading of our technology so it will be a wi-fi hospital by April whereby we can receive electronic referrals from GPs. It means we will be able to share information with colleagues in Dublin hospitals and people can look at x-rays. We will be able to track everything so there will be a lot of improvements.'
Acknowledging that the ambulance service is overstretched through demand, he said hospital management are fully aware of issues regarding ambulance cover, adding that they are looking at providing separate transport for patients to hospitals across the region to free up ambulances to attend emergencies.
'There is a misunderstanding that Wexford General Hospital controls the organisation of Wexford ambulances. We have no input. It's the National Ambulance Service. We have no ability to improve anything. The ambulances are used for elderly, frail people who can't go home in cars so we have to look at alternative modes of transport. Patients are brought to St John's Hospital and Waterford for an appointment. We have had a situation where we have supplied transport on certain days of the week but that is not funded. We have to fund it.'