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Ennis has second longest wait time in country for gynaecological appointments

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HEALTH services for women in the Mid-West must be improved as a matter of urgency, according to a former Mayor of Clare.

At the April meeting of Clare County Council, Councillor Mary Howard described the waiting list for gynaecological appointments at Ennis General Hospital, which are the second highest in the country, as a sign of an “ongoing crisis”.

In a joint motion, tabled with Councillors Donna McGetitgan, Alan O’Callaghan and Liam Grant, the Ennis woman outlined how figures released to the Dáil recently.

These show the average wait time for an outpatient gynaecology appointment at the hospital is close to one year and five months and is second only to Tallaght Hospital nationwide

“Waiting times at University Hospital Limerick are around half that number, averaging out at 291 days,” the motion said.

“Some 599 women are currently waiting for such appointments in Ennis, along with a further 1,455 at UHL.

“On foot of this information we request the Minister for Health, Mr. Stephen Donnelly, to approve and allocate funding for both equipment and the recruitment of appropriate personnel for the Gynaecology Department in Ennis. This needs to be done as a matter of urgency.”

Commenting on the figures, Councillor Howard was highly critical of the level of service provision.

“These figures represent a serious and ongoing crisis. We need to remember that behind every statistic there is a woman. Delayed care leads to poorer outcomes.”

Referring to her female colleagues at the meeting, Councillor Howard said, “There are nine women in the room and we all know that you don’t book a gynaecological appointment on a whim. Some do because of debilitating and painful conditions.”

Councillor Howard, who has just been nominated for a place of the Health Service Executive (HSE) Regional Forum for the west, also hit out at the State’s track record of care for women.

“Ireland’s history of care in women’s health has been totally lacking,” she said.

“Women have been left ignored and sometimes dead. In the Anti-D scandal involving the blood transfusion services, women were bullied into silence. We also had a scandal where woman were subjected to unnecessary hysterectomies and symphysiotomies. And these kind of things don’t date to some primitive past.”

“Work is now underway to highlight the very difficult side effects of mesh devices implants. That issue is now being examined.”

Councillor Howard said inequality in access to healthcare continues to be a troubling issue.

“I can’t think of a single male health scandal,” she said. “But this is not just a women’s issue. These are your wives, girlfriends, partners, daughters, sisters and mothers. I was truly horrified to hear of the huge waiting lists for care.”

Supporting the motion, Councillor Donna McGettigan said it was important to highlight the issue of waiting lists.

“We know the importance of gynaecological examinations in detecting cancers,” she said. 

Councillor Liam Grant said he was delighted to welcome Councillor Howard to the HSE forum.

“I will table a question on this issue,” he said. “It is the lack of representation of women in politics that leads to these kinds of issues.”

Councillor Joe Killeen was also supportive of the motion.

“Greater work needs to be done in terms of resources and facilities,” he said.

Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy said she was also very supportive.

“The situation is entirely unacceptable,” she said. “It’s atrocious. This motion should go to all local authorities and to our Oireachtas members.”

Thanking members for their support, Councillor Howard said she would like everyone to reflect on the situation. “This has to stop now,” she said.

Fiona McGarry
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Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald.
Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti.
She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at The University of Galway.
If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at The University of Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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