SERVICES need to be expanded in Ennis Hospital to reduce the possibility of a “car crash” scenario of massive overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) next winter.
That was the warning issued by Deputy Michael McNamara, who has asked Health Minister Simon Harris what measures is he putting in place to ensure acute patients who need to go to UHL attend the ED and those who can be treated in Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals are accommodated there.
Deputy McNamara called for an expansion of services in Ennis Hospital to prevent chronic overcrowding in UHL next winter.
“A huge escalation in the capability of Ennis to deal with the local injuries unit and the medical assessment unit as well as outpatient facilities is needed so that we do not have the overcrowding that looks almost inevitable now. It is like looking at a car crash from six months away.
“University Hospital Limerick has been consistently the most overcrowded hospital in the State. We are not second-class people in the mid-west.
“One hundred years after the foundation of the State we deserve a decent healthcare system. In the middle of summer, 35 patients are on trolleys in Limerick. I bring this to the Minister’s attention now because I can only imagine what lies ahead for me, my family, my neighbours, the people I represent, and, most of all, the patients in the hospital and the doctors and nurses who have to work in those conditions.
“We know that only people who need acute care should go to UHL and all others should be treated in Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s Hospital. This is what we were promised when the structure was set up but it is not what has happened to date,” he stated.
Minister Harris acknowledged that the Mid-West has been failed for decades in terms of bed numbers. I am not here to apportion blame either but we all know the story. Changes were made, beds were promised but beds never came.
“A 60-bed modular unit is being built now and there are 48 other beds – 24 now and 24 due to come on stream this summer. That is a big help.
“Capacity in and of itself will not be enough because UHL was already extremely busy. These are legacy beds that it should have had years ago. We know that in addition to the hospital being already busy, the capacity constraints of Covid-19 will place further pressures on it. I agree with the Deputy that there will need to be a change in patient flow.
“I am proposing that we make better use of our model two hospitals,” he said.