03 July 2015

Joe Browne, Chairman of Build4Life has today called on the Minister for Health to launch an investigation into how the management at Cork University Hospital (CUH) allowed over €2.3 million of the charity’s funds to be invested in the development of a desperately-needed new isolated Cystic Fibrosis inpatient rooms (Ward 5B) knowing that they wouldn’t have the staff to facilitate it and that it would be left idle.

The project team for this new build was put in place over four years ago when all objectives and timelines were agreed. At no point were staffing levels a problem and it was agreed that the new CF inpatients room (Ward 5B) would open and be serviced by the existing CUH staff in March 2015.

Joe Browne recalls, “When the plans for this new ward were on the table the hospital advised us that the patients and staff would be relocated to the new ward as soon as it opened in March 2015. It was made clear that the existing staff in CUH would service the ward and that no new staff would be needed. The first mention of staffing problems was communicated to me in an email on 10th June 2015, outlining that new staff would need to be recruited for the hospital before the new CF unit could be opened and that the hospital could not give me a timeline as to when this would happen. I am raising the question as to how can money raised by a charity like Build4Life can be taken and used to build a state-of-the-art unit knowing that the hospital wouldn’t have the capability to open it. It now lies idle while patients with CF, who so desperately need the new isolation rooms, are without and their families and friends who fundraised so tirelessly are frustrated, angry and disbelieving of such an illogical situation.”

Build4Life, a parent run charity that raises money for improved facilities for patients with Cystic Fibrosis at the CUH, was originally set up in 2007 with the specific goal of raising the €2,300,000 needed to build and open the much-needed isolation rooms.

The development of isolated inpatient and outpatient facilities is clinically proven to prevent cross infection and allow CF patients to enter the hospital environment without fear of becoming more ill than before. These facilities will allow people with Cystic Fibrosis to live longer and enjoy healthier lives.

Joe Browne is looking for answers from CUH and is calling for someone to be held accountable. “These plans were in place for over four years and someone needs to be held accountable for the decisions that were made. The hospital will not tell us how many new staff are required overall to open the new ward and will not give us a date for opening. It’s a disgrace. I am calling on the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to launch an investigation into how this situation involving such a substantial investment and now an empty and idle multi-million medical unit, was allowed to happen.”