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Noeleen Moran addressing a rally calling for the upgrading of Ennis hospital. Photograph by Eugene McCafferty

15,000 sign petition for action on Mid-West hospitals


A NEW petition containing 15,000 signatures supporting the upgrading of acute hospitals in the Mid-West including Ennis Hospital has been submitted by a lobby group to the Dáil Petitions Committee.

This action was taken by the Mid West Hospital Campaign to put the spotlight on the need to tackle overcrowding at UHL and to address the situation of timely access to safe and proper healthcare in the Mid-West.

The petition calls for the upgrading of Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s Hospital to Model Three acute facilities and the re-opening of emergency departments. It will be heard before the Dáil petitions committee this September 14.

Campaign spokeswoman, Noeleen Moran said, there are 80 people lying on trolleys in the corridors of UHL and thousands more wait on lists for treatment.

“We need our hospital upgraded and we need the emergency department reinstated. Clare people deserve timely access to proper healthcare.”

A recent HIQA report highlights that UL Hospitals group is the only hospital group, which does not have a Model Three hospital. Former HSE CEO Paul Reid has ruled out this proposal.

The lobby group hopes the delegates to the committee will bring Minister Stephen Donnelly before the committee to answer directly on this issue.

Deputy Violet Anne-Wynne believes it is vital 24-hour casualty cover is restored to Ennis Hospital in view of the failures of UHL.

“Now that we are seeing population growth at its highest since 2008 which also precedes the decision to downgrade the hospital, that is further evidence of the pressing need for the upgrade.

“I have had countless constituents raise their concerns and difficulties with being left with UHL as the only option.

“When a patient requires the services of an ED, they should not have to contend with the issue of getting there in a timely manner.”

Despite considerable investment in UHL, Deputy Joe Carey acknowledged “the cart was put before the horse” in terms of not providing enough beds in UHL before beds were reduced in Ennis. He said the development of a new elective-only hospital for the Mid-West would free up bed capacity in the UHL.

In addition to presence of a National Support Team in UHL examining patient flow for a number of months, he said the UL Hospitals’ Group has commissioned a Deloitte Report to look at patient flow.

The Fine Gael Deputy proposed the operating hours for the Local Injury Unit and the Medical Assessment Unit in Ennis should be extended to treat more non-urgent cases.

“I support the further development of Ennis. I think the call for Model Three hospitals in Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s is unrealistic and not achievable.

“To operate a 24-hour ED, you need six ED consultants, specialist nursing staff, equipment and the patient throughput to keep clinicians’ skills up to scratch.”

Deputy Michael McNamara supports the campaign to upgrade Ennis Hospital and stressed it is vital the Petitions’ Committee thoroughly examines this proposal and secures independent experts not employed by the HSE to complete a proper comprehensive assessment.

Senator Timmy Dooley fully supports the upgrading of Ennis Hospital, saying “I can give personal testament to the quality of the Local Injury Unit and the Medical Assessment Unit and the wonderful service they are delivering at the moment.

“I have been in both units with family members in recent weeks.”

Senator Roisín Garvey, who is also supporting the petition, believes the operating hours for Ennis should be extended to a 24-hour basis.

She is hoping a meeting can be arranged between Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and the seven Clare Oireachtas members. Senator Martin Conway is out of the country on holidays.
While Deputy Cathal Crowe is also on holidays, he has stated he supports the upgrading of Ennis Hospital.

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