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Fears of hospital staff being transferred to Limerick

DEFENCE Minister Tony Killeen has been asked to intervene in the possible transfer of staff, mainly nurses, from Ennis hospital to tackle staffing shortages at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick.
Deputy Pat Breen made the call on Wednesday amid claims that proposed cuts in accident and emergency services at Nenagh hospital to assist the flagship facility in Limerick were averted following political pressure.
The Fine Gael deputy appealed to the HSE and the Health Minister Mary Harney to reverse this decision as quickly as possible.
Ironically, the latest claim coincided with good news for Ennis hospital after Ennis Town Council gave the green light for the provision of 50 replacement inpatient beds at the hospital. It is expected that construction on the new refurbishment project will start in about eight weeks.
Deputy Breen’s comments follow claims that the HSE is planning to transfer a number of staff from Ennis to Limerick until the end of the year.
“Nurses and staff at Ennis hospital are paying the price for the decision by the HSE and the Health Minister to press ahead with the reconfiguration of acute services in this region, even though no additional resources were put in place in Limerick.
“They are also paying the price for the failure of the HSE and the Health Minister to address the chronic shortage of doctors in our hospitals, even though they have had plenty of warning to get their house in order.”
“Stripping resources from Ennis hospital at a time when planning permission has just been granted for the construction of two new wards at the hospital makes no sense. It is a busy hospital and my fear is that transferring staff from Ennis will lead to a further downgrading of the hospital,” he said.
INMO representative, Mary Fogarty claimed Ennis hospital faces the threat of having staff transferred to Limerick, now that Nenagh hospital had escaped proposed cuts.
Deputy Tony Killeen told The Clare Champion that the first priority has to be patient care and stated the overall priority of reconfiguration is to centralise some of the acute services, like surgery and make other less critical care services more available in hospitals like Ennis.
In addition to major improvements in primary care, Deputy Killeen said the provision of advanced paramedics to provide emergency care is a huge success in Clare.
He explained any issues relating to staff have to be considered in the context of the recent Croke Park agreement.
“The Government has to get better value for money from all public services to address the €20 billion gap in the national finances. It seems that Fine Gael are attempting to undermine this. Once the new wards are in place, more services can be provided in Ennis hospital,” he said.
The Mid-West Health Service Executive (HSE) confirmed earlier this week that no decision has been made to close or curtail opening hours of present emergency services at Nenagh or Ennis hospitals.
The HSE acknowledged there is considerable pressure in the hospital network in the Mid-West at present and its priority is to manage risk effectively in the context of available staffing resources.
“Ongoing medical recruitment difficulties in the emergency department at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Dooradoyle, the main emergency centre in the region, continue to contribute to lengthy waiting times for patients.
“Medical, nursing and clerical staff are working very hard to ensure that those who urgently need attention are seen and treated in a timely manner. However, those patients with less time-critical medical problems may face delays in being seen by a doctor,” said a HSE spokeswoman.
The HSE are actively recruiting medical staff on an ongoing basis to address the current doctor vacancies in the emergency department.
The agency hadn’t responded to Deputy Breen’s claim at the time of going to press.

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