Vacant hospital posts attracting strong interest

The spiralling cost of living in several of the country’s major urban centres is having an unexpected, yet welcome effect in terms of attracting interest to a series of vacant senior medical posts at Cavan General Hospital.

The hiring process is already well-underway across a range of specialities, from consultancy roles to theatre and general nursing, marking a dramatic turnaround from a position where once the hospital found recruitment challenging.

Su-zann O’Callaghan, general manager at Cavan and Monaghan Hospitals, says the group is “delighted” with the level of interest from suitably qualified staff submitting applications, accepting it had been “traditionally difficult” to attract the desired level of expertise to Cavan in the past.

The hospital has been involved in a “focused campaign” of recruitment at all levels over the past 24 months, including internationally, and with a high degree of success.

Along with the rising cost of living, linkages with tertiary hospitals within the region, not to mention major planned investment in upgrading Cavan’s Emergency Department and a second endoscopy suite have combined to make Cavan a more attractive package.

Earlier this month, the HSE secured permission for a 5,236 sq m, three-storey extension, adjacent to the existing Lisdarn building on the hospital site.

‘Great story’

Ms O’Callaghan says the “uncontested” granting of planning permission is a “great story for the hospital and indeed the wider community” which would provide better access for ambulance attendance to ED following the extension of the triage area outside due to Covid.

She reveals that there will an 18-bed ward installed on the uppermost floor, two more beds than previously reported, and that these two new rooms will be airborne protected, offering more protection to patients admitted with respiratory illnesses.

There is, says Ms O’Callaghan, “a lot of follow up work” being carried out at present, but that the HSE and RCSI are hopeful that phase one of the overall protect can begin towards the end of this year, with further progress in terms of actual construction taking place in the first half of 2023.

“The hope is we can make progress in the first half of next year, although this is dependent on supply of materials, costs, etcetera.” Regardless, she maintains that the HSE and RSCI are “very committed” to delivering this extension project for CGH.

She believes the investment will be “protective” in terms of securing what services are currently available at Cavan General, while the hospital is continuing to work to ease the pressure on several Dublin-based hospitals.

A move to relocate antenatal clinics with MLU and CLU at the new Breffni Building, formerly Jackson’s Garage, in the centre of Cavan Town has already helped to free up “additional theatre space” and Ms O’Callaghan says management is continuing to explore other ways to better “streamline” specialist services on offer.

Cavan General is also heavily involved with the HSE’s roll-out of the National Clinical Programme for Older Persons, assisting patients suffering from multiple chronic illnesses, frailty, poly-pharmacy and other syndromes associated with ageing.

“When we can provide services locally, we will continue to try and build on that,” says Ms O’Callaghan.

Relieve pressure

The new building will, according to Waterford-based RKD Architects who have designed the extension, relieve pressure and resolve problems caused by the current campus layout.

As part of submissions, the current Emergency and Endoscopy departments were both described as “undersized”, while the Endoscopy Unit was dubbed “subpar” in standard.

The new plans will include the installation of photovoltaic panels on the roof of the existing hospital, a 44-space carpark adjacent to the extension, and another new carpark comprising 150 parking spaces on the internal access road to the east of the extension.

In total, planning was granted with a total of 17 conditions attached, including that the HSE will pay the council a development contribution worth €68,070.

Prior to the commencement of development, a traffic management plan must also be agreed with the local authority.