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Nearly 10,000 men, women and children took to the streets of Limerick last Saturday to protest at the state of the health system including overcrowding in hospitals and the continued limitation of A&Es in other regional hospitals. Photograph by Liam Burke/Press 22

‘Campaign of people’ power promises to bring change to Mid-West

A HOSPITAL rally organiser has vowed last Saturday’s march in Limerick is only the beginning of a “campaign of people power” that will force change in the delivery of regional health care.

Mike Daly, who organised the protest with the help of the Mid-West Hospital Campaign, said he hoped this rally would result in the HSE reopening the three EDs in Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s.

“For 14 years we have watched as they closed our ED, robbed us of hospital beds and watched our people die on trolleys. Well no more, the time has come for change because we deserve better.

“Our health system deserves enough workers so it can operate properly. Our elderly deserve better than to lie on a cold, hard trolley. Our young people don’t deserve to die from neglect.

“Today, we march for our families, our children and mothers and fathers. When my own father died, it was from one of the most serious cases of neglect over a number of years you will hear about.

“There was an inquest in 2012. Now we have a second inquest starting on March 6. I would urge you to follow the inquest proceedings to hear a story that should scandalise Irish people and to find out what happens in Irish hospitals that you would never hear about.

“We have spent 13 years trying to get justice for our father. No one within UHL or the HSE or at government level helped us. No politician helped us.

“All our politicians must come out and say they are in favour of reopening the three EDs and work to achieve that or otherwise there will be no votes for you at the next election. The time for talking is over, the time for action is now.”

SIPTU Industrial Organiser, Ger Kennedy said the union represented health workers who knew they were putting their own lives and the lives of their families at risk during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately, throughout the crisis some of our members paid the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives on behalf of their community. Those workers deserve better.

“SIPTU represents the interests of 1,500 to 1,600 in UHL, the surrounding hospitals and the National Ambulance Service. They go to work every single day knowing one thing – they can’t provide the service they want to do, as your servants.

“They know they don’t have the resources, staff or the support of management to provide a service that people in this community deserve and must have.”

He said the “huge problem” in the Mid-West stems back to April 2009 when political decisions were taken to “completely destroy the Accident and Emergency service in the Mid-West”.

“That is a failed project. If you listen to what HSE management are saying. They said in front of the Dáil Committee last week that this decision was right.

“I would suggest when they assessed one thing in 2009, they didn’t apply common sense or physics because if you try to put a pint of water into a half pint glass all you will get is one big mess, which is what we have been left with.”

He pledged the union would continue to support this campaign until people in the Mid-West get a properly functioning ED service supported by proper, fully-funded resources in relation to primary healthcare provision.

Conor Reidy from the Nenagh Needs Its A and E Campaign claimed his father was a “victim of the HSE” during his last few months as an 89-year-old in 2018.

Mr Reidy highlighted the problems with overcrowding in UHL, his opposition to the reconfiguration of acute hospital services and the ambulance protocol directing patients to UHL even when Nenagh Hospital is much nearer.

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