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"Ironic" that last patient to leave Mount Carmel 'could be a public patient'

SIPTU said it is also concerned that staff could have to wait up to six months for pay owed.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

SIPTU IS SET to meet with the liquidators of private hospital Mount Carmel again tomorrow – and said that it appears the last patient out of the hospital could be a public patient.

A spokesperson from SIPTU told TheJournal.ie that they met with the liquidators today. The union is concerned that staff could have to wait months for their statutory entitlements.

He said that the liquidators are mapping out what is envisioned in relation to provision of service during the orderly wind down of the hospital.

In a normal liquidation setting, the liquidators would seize the property and people would be made redundant, but in this situation, it must be wound down.

The last elective surgery took place on Saturday and it is envisaged those patients are going to be discharged by this Friday at the latest. The union was also told that the last obstetric delivery births will be this Friday and that antenatal care will continue in the hospital up to 7, 8 or 9 February.

There will also be an obstetric consultant on site to provide services if needed during that time frame.

The liquidators are said to be seeking medical advice on what is required of them to ensure this is all done while recognising patient safety issues.

Pay concerns

SIPTU has been told that liquidators intend on paying salaries up until the end of this month, and believes that some staff may be required after this week but not many staff. There are 328 staff members at the hospital.

SIPTU has asked the liquidators to make efforts to ensure no stone is left unturned in trying to gain interest in the hospital from buyers. It believes that two bids have been made for the site but turned down by NAMA.

The union believes that due to the schedule laid out for the wind-down of the hospital, the last patients to leave the hospital could be the patients that were from the public system but being looked after by Mount Carmel.

The spokesperson described this as “ironic” given that the public patients were there as there was no room for them within a public hospital.

There are efforts being made to find hospitals for these remaining public patients.

SIPTU  understands that the liquidators will be drawing funds for minimum notice or annual leave wages from the Central Government Fund, and due to an “extensive form-filling process”, it could take up to six months for Mount Carmel staff to be paid their statutory entitlements.

A central system could be set up where the laid-off staff could look to apply for new positions in other hospitals.

Address from a Minister

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter visited the site today and addressed the staff at an impromptu meeting set up by SIPTU. According to the union, he “acknowledged the difficulty the staff were in” and “also outlined the potential difficulties associated with liquidation”.

The union asked for his support in ensuring staff do not have to wait months for their entitlements.

It said it was “fairly clear to everyone in the room” that Shatter “understood the deep concerns of people who were there”.

SIPTU believes that Mount Carmel should be sold and that it could be used as a hospital in another guise and not necessarily a maternity hospital.

SIPTU is to meet with the liquidators tomorrow and anticipates it will be given a schedule of redundancies of the order staff will be leaving.

Read: Sell Mount Carmel and save jobs, urges SIPTU>

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