€23m hospital extension site plan submitted
A new site development plan for a €23m, 75-bed four storey complex at Wexford General Hospital has been completed and lodged with the Ireland East Health Group.
Clinical Director with Wexford General Hospital Colm Quigley said an approval letter is in place for the appointment of a design team for the new medical block building, however no funding for the design process in place. The hospital management team plan to build a High Dependency Unit, replacement wards for the outdated, leaking 36-year-old medical building, along with improved teaching facilities at the hospital on Newtown Road.
Dr Quigley said funding is expected to be announced for the works which will future proof the hospital by providing state-of-the-art wards in keeping with HIQA standards.
'We are going through a process of having the funding freed up. Everything is on hold until January because hospital budgets are in danger of going over budget,' he said.
Dr Quigley said the hospital will survive.
'We are planning that far ahead we don't want to find ourselves in 2020 or 2021 running out of space. The hospital could fail HIQA judges and for the place to survive we need to complete these works.'
Plans were submitted to the Ireland East Hospital Groupin late 2015 when Dr Quigley confirmed that the plan was to 'build up' and create a four-storey state-of-the-art complex for patients, with one and two-bed wards, to bring the hospital in line with modern European standards.
Plans were submitted this year and hospital management are hopeful of approval and that building works will commence prior to 2020.
This follows the €20m spend on a new emergency department, which opened in June 2015, along with a new theatre and maternity ward, which is completed, but which is not fully open yet.
As part of the new plans for the hospital, up to 200 trainee nurses, physiotherapists and doctors will be taught at the hospital, which is expected to gain university status, putting it more on a par with University Hospital Waterford.
Dr Quigley said: 'It has been acknowledged by the HSE that, on the basis of our activity, we have been underfunded. The historic underfunding of Wexford General Hospital is evidenced by National Activity Based Funding data. There is a recognition that our hospital was short in resources and wasn't as well staffed as other equivalent hospitals. The board of management has been working to get the extra staff and the extra beds.'
Fundraising for MRI scanner is under way with leadership from Mr Ciaran Sheridan, Chair of Friends of Wexford General Hospital.
Dr Quigley said this project has been approved by Ireland East Health Group.
'The Friends will buy the machine with IEHG providing the build and staffing.'
Dr Quigley said a major challenge for the hospital remains nursing recruitment which is an ongoing national problem.
'We need ten nurses at least immediately and these will be permanent posts. We need more consultants and aim to have three Emergency Department Consultants shortly (we have two at present). Otherwise recruitment of doctors has been very good but as always funding is very tight.'
He said the hospital is just over budget but this reflects the work-load of the hospital which increases from three to 5 per cent yearly.
New projects undertaken at Wexford General Hospital include a blood-taking programme for general practitioner (GP) requested blood tests which is free for all patients.
The service requires GP referral with request forms and patient identifiers from the GP.
'This service was requested by our local GPs. This a challenging service due to our nursing shortage but we are determined to support our local GPs in their efforts to improve services to patients.'
The hospital has also had success with its new calorie counting initiaitve and good food menu, which involves serving no more fried food to patients.