Integration is our only agenda

Change was no longer a choice, it was a national requirement and he was keen to examine with the unions how we could work together rather than having an adversarial relationship with them, Dermot Monaghan, HSE Area Manager, Louth/Meath told the Forum.

He wanted to publicly acknowledge the work done by health service staff in Louth and Meath who, in some cases were delivering increased services in conditions they didn’t make and never thought they would have to, in terms of budget reductions, Dermot Monaghan, HSE Area Manager for Louth Meath told the Forum.

Dermot Monaghan
Dermot Monaghan

He said the health services were a very difficult place to be in at present and Louth Meath Management Team saw the PSA as the only show in town.  We needed to change our emphasis on delivering services in isolation to query if we needed duplication or if we could manage services better and more cost effectively.

“Integration – which must occur – and not why we can’t integrate, is our only agenda. We are very lucky to have a public service agreement here where our wages are protected and our jobs secure.  Change is no longer a choice, it is a national requirement and I am keen to examine with the unions how we can work together rather than having an adversarial relationship with them.”

Monaghan said that the consolidation of the laboratory services in Louth, which was almost finalised, would provide an increased range and repertoire of tests, increased quality and safety, ensure a greater skill mix and reduce the cost of service provision.

The rationale for the change dated back to 2007 when it was identified that a consolidated laboratory service would best meet the needs of the HSE services in Louth.  The Louth County Hospital operated as a demand led service between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., 85 per cent of the workload was GP driven and 15 per cent clinical. The capacity existed, from an equipment perspective to undertake this work in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, without causing any delay or impacting on reporting timeframes.

We are very lucky to have a public service agreement here where our wages are protected and our jobs secure

Benefits included an integrated in-house model and would also be associated with savings, change in work practice, increased productivity, reduced staffing levels and improved governance arrangements. The benefits also included the availability of comprehensive responsive in-house laboratory services, an increased range and repertoire of tests, the availability of greater skill mix, improved quality and safety and reduced cost of service provision.  It was, of course, also possible to outsource the service.

It would also make it possible to increase the overall number of permanent WTE lab staff in Our Lady of Lourdes, have a more appropriate skill mix and the opportunity for increased levels of training and re-skilling.

Union engagement began in August, where a draft transition plan was presented.  A Working Group was established to operationalise the move and the deadline was this September. IR issues included change in location and rosters but the entire project would save an estimated €30,000 per month.

He said he would like to acknowledge the work of Sally Byrne, Laboratory Manager and the Project Manager, Robert Kidd and all the staff and unions.