A paramedic who brought a patient to Dooradoyle had to argue with staff to get his trolley back, so under-resourced was the Regional Hospital, this week’s meeting of Clare County Council heard.
Councillors also speculated that overcrowding at the Mid Western Regional Hospital is leading to people dying prematurely. Standing orders at the council meeting were suspended, as the members discussed the current situation at Dooradoyle, which all agreed was unacceptable.They called for A&E services to be restored at Ennis, while they also want urgent action to be taken to put an adequate facility in place at Dooradoyle.
Councillor PJ Ryan said when he brought someone to hospital, he saw a “paramedic pleading with staff to give him his trolley back so he could respond to an emergency”.
He said someone could have been dying of a heart attack but the driver wasn’t able to leave and it amounted to “a disgraceful situation”.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Tom McNamara said the inadequacy of services there has been a problem for quite a long time, with promises of improvements at certain dates not being delivered. He said two years ago, when the issue was raised, people were told a new facility would be ready within two years, but now it seems it won’t arrive until 2017.
“The type of service the people of Clare are getting is absolutely unacceptable,” he claimed.
He also said there is a need for funding to be allocated immediately, to have a proper new building in place by the end of 2014. In the interim, he said the A&E units in Ennis should be fully reopened, to allow people be assessed before being brought elsewhere.
His colleague, Pat Hayes, said that having met people on the canvass trail, he had heard many horror stories. He also said the situation is leading to deaths in the community. At the moment, he said, those in charge “are kicking the can down the road and putting people’s lives at risk”.
Councillor Cathal Crowe said the Regional in Dooradoyle is “bursting at the seams at the moment”. He said it was always the obvious hospital for people from his part of Clare to visit but that going there now they could encounter people from Kilbaha or Thurles, due to the cut in services at Ennis and Nenagh.
Independent James Breen said it was time the council “stopped talking and do something”. “Have people lost their lives as a result of lying on trolleys for three or four days? Some say they have, I don’t know,” he added.
Councillor Johnny Flynn said, despite a quadrupling of medical expenditure since 2000, services at Limerick are now in a very poor state. s Clare Oireachtas representatives and they had agreed to lobby the Taoiseach and Minister for Health for additional resources at the A&E in Limerick.
Independent Ann Norton was critical of the partial closure of the A&E in Ennis and she said the response to the situation from Clare’s TDs was “an absolute disgrace”. She said that “It has got to the stage where people have been told that the only way to go in is by ambulance.”
Councillor Richard Nagle said that if the A&E in Limerick was a private facility HIQA would close it down and patients transferred elsewhere.
By Owen Ryan