South Infirmary staff offered unpaid leave
Most of the staff at the South Infirmary have been offered the chance to take a week's unpaid leave next month because of its growing financial crisis.
The move means that scheduled operations and treatments could be delayed if a large number of staff take up the offer.
According to hospital chief executive Gerard O’Callaghan the unpaid leave is entirely voluntary and they will know the impact in the next few weeks.
The timing of the leave will coincide with the mid-term breaks in primary and second-level schools.
However, Fianna Fáil leader and local TD Micheál Martin said the situation was a result of "abject failure” of the Minister for Health to address the deficit in the health budget.
“We have been aware since March that hospitals in Cork have had large deficits, I warned that hospitals wouldn’t be able to pay wages by October, this was raised in the Dáil on a number of occasions but I was shouted down by the Government benches every time.
“There has been a complete lack of transparency here and the Minister is in denial. In July at a meeting with the HSE I asked would there be implications in Cork of the deficits and I was told this was not the case at the time,” he said.
“Staff at the South Infirmary have been requested to take a week’s unpaid leave during October. There is also a possibility of staff being asked to take a further three weeks in December. This essentially means one of our key acute hospitals in Cork will be closed for a full week.”
He also described the situation as a “full blown crisis in the health service” and “lives could be put at risk”.
The request was made to the 600-strong staff by email last week. It is thought that there have been increased cash-flow problems at the hospital this year.
The voluntary request is believed to have been made to doctors, nurses, health professionals, and all administrative staff, but the offer has not been made to any staff at oncology services.
The hospital specialises in emergency ear, nose and throat (ENT) treatment and surgery, orthopaedics, general surgery, dermatology gynaecology, endocrinology, and rheumatology.