Sunday 20 October 2019

We have a €23 million plan to upgrade the hospital


By David Looby

PLANS for a four-storey, €23m, 72-bed complex for Wexford General Hospital have been submitted to the Ireland East Hospital Group.

The hospital's clinical director, Dr Colm Quigley, said the plan is 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 earlier this year, along with a new theatre and maternity ward, which is completed, but which will not open until early next year.

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 in spring, 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. We are part of the Ireland East structure. There is a new administrative structure. 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. We do have a space shortage for the future. We have a building plan, which will cost between €20m and €23m. This will take four to five years.'

Life and fire safety works costing €6m are under way at the hospital, throughout every ward and these works will be completed in January.

'A lot of the wards have been completely renovated. We are modernising our wards and we will have wi-fi so WGH will be a modern hospital. The future is in electronic records and all our X-rays now are digital so they can be used by other hospitals. Patient integrated care is improving all the time.

'The funding requirement for the Natioinal Children's Hospital and other hospitals is enormous, as is the funding to upgrade the nursing home sector. We are hopeful other capital funds will become available for WGH and we will go through all the appropriate channels through Ireland East. We will have a design team who will look at the campus here and at our space. They will give us an idea of how best we can configure the place. We will probably have two-bed wards in a four-storey building with offices and space for training students. Currently we have 40 medical students and 10 intern physiotherapy students. I see our numbers trebling at least with nurses and midwives linking in to us. The place will become bigger and a more active campus over time.'

Dr Quigley said there is a requirement from UCD students to have more outreach services from Dublin hospitals over the next five to 10 years.

'More space is required and we are critically short of office space. As we have more consultants on site we need more computers and office space.

Dr Quigley appealed to anyone from the county who has a relative or friend abroad who is a nurse, physiotherapist or doctor to contact the hospital as it is seeking staff.

'It's very difficult to recruit staff. We have been working very hard over the last five years to have the staff we need. If there are parents and friends of the hospital who have doctors, nurses and occupational therapists who are abroad we want to let them know that WGH is a very good place to work. And we would be very interested in meeting them and bringing their skills back to Wexford.'

The hospital will have 245 open beds from January, up 65 from previous years.

Dr Quigley praised the hospital's staff, adding: 'We have to outline these facts more and more to our staff. We have held off until we are delivering things better. We have taken a view as a board of management that actions speak louder than words.

'CEO Mary Day has been very supportive, as have other senior staff in the national hospital office. They are very aware of the need to upgrade. We need the new modern facility for HIQA standards.

'This involves having one- and two-bed wards. It's the modern approach to infection control, but also to comfort, dignity and good hygiene standards in the hospital.

'When the Higgins Report was accepted by government and implemented by putting new hospital groups in place, three particular hospitals were noted to have geographical importance and they were Wexford, Letterkenny and Tralee.

'All three have maintained the same services due to their geography. Wexford has the only emergency department and acute unit between Waterford and Dublin so it's important trauma, orthopaedic, cardiology and kidney are supported in Waterford.

'Our children's ward has become extraordinarily busy.

'We have five paediatric consultants working here and we've more and more demand locally. We will be integrating our care with the National Children's Hospital in future.

Dr Quigley said complex surgery will be carried out in Dublin, as with the cancer programme.

'We will be expanding our links with the UCD Medicine and Nursing school so young doctors and nurses will be coming here, along with other speciality care students.

'Our links to Waterford are continuing but as part of our hospital grouping we are now more aligned with Dublin hospitals.

'We have been working very hard to get the resources we need and the quality we need. We are focused on giving our GPs and our patients the best service we possibly can and we mean that sincerely, it's not empty words. We are seeing improvements and we are very hopeful of continuing these improvements in 2016. We are very conscious that our staff are particularly stretched to breaking point.'

Dr Quigley said he hopes the new doctors and staff can ease the burden on existing staff.

'We want to thank them for the work they have done to keep the place going. We are very conscious we fall short on things from time to time and we are doing our best not to do so. A lot of the time the task is actually overwhelming. We have areas where patients are waiting for a long time and we are aware of that.

'It's very difficult to recruit the appropriate staff.'

Wexford People

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