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Dublin: 3 °C Thursday 14 November, 2019
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St Vincent’s to provide two extra rooms for Cystic Fibrosis patients

Two in-patient rooms will be held in reserve for emergency CF admissions – but patients say the arrangement falls short.

Image: VILevi via Shutterstock

ST VINCENT’S HOSPITAL and the HSE have agreed to amend their operational procedures for the admission of patients with Cystic Fibrosis.

The admissions process, discussed at a meeting between hospital authorities and the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland, will see two rooms kept free at all times to facilitate Cystic Fibrosis sufferers who present at the hospital in emergency situations.

The talks came after a shortage of beds in November which left five CF patients queueing for a bed, and having either to accept beds in the main hospital building at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, or to stay at home until appropriate accommodation became available.

This is despite the opening of a new 100-bed wing of the hospital in August, of which 20 beds are reserved for treating CF patients, with a further 14 inpatient beds set aside for treating CF patients as they are needed.

People with Cystic Fibrosis are particularly vulnerable to cross-infection from others in hospitals and need to be accommodated in their own rooms to address this risk.

Philip Watt, chief executive of the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland, told RTÉ News that last night’s meeting had seen hospital management and the HSE offer “a strong commitment of [providing] up to 34 beds”, in line with their original agreement.

“Also, we got a commitment for emergency admissions, which is something that didn’t happen under the last agreement,” he said, explaining that at least one of the two rooms designated for CF patients would be kept free at all time for emergency admissions.

Commitments had already been made

However, commitments to provide one in-patient room for emergency CF admissions, with a second room provided from February, had already been made and were revealed to the Oireachtas committee on Health and Children last week.

The HSE’s director of operations for Dublin Mid-Leinster, Gerry O’Dwyer, told the committee that the number of CF patients presenting for treatment at St Vincent’s tended to increase over the winter months.

He said this was why 14 further inpatient rooms at the hospital’s Nutley Wing could be provided for people with CF who needed them, in addition to the 20 rooms in St Christopher’s Ward which is already reserved for CF patients.

Journalist Orla Tinsley – who herself has Cystic Fibrosis and is currently an inpatient at the hospital – described yesterday’s developments as “devastating” and believed the new procedures still fell significantly short of best practice.

Writing on Twitter, Tinsley said the new procedures would mean that only two extra cubicles were ringfenced for CF patients, when international standards meant there should be one cubicle permanently reserved for every ten people with Cystic Fibrosis who may attend the hospital.

Ireland has one of the highest incidence rates of Cystic Fibrosis in the world, with one in every 1,393 people born with the condition.  There are 1,136 people in Ireland who are registered as having Cystic Fibrosis, almost half of whom are under 18.

St Vincent’s caters for 315 of Ireland’s 594 adult CF patients.

Read: Public warned over winter vomiting bug in St Vincent’s Hospital

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Gavan Reilly

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