FIVE General Election candidates in Clare attended the protest march to highlight the trolley crisis at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) on Saturday.
Clare County Council chairman, Councillor Cathal Crowe marched with Councillor Claire Colleran-Molloy in the Clare group and he was joined by four other General Election candidates, Michael Leahy, David Barrett, Violet-Anne Wynne and Theresa O’Donohue.
Councillor Crowe said he attended the march as the need to tackle the overcrowding issues is constantly raised at council meetings.
Clare Sinn Féin General Election candidate, Violet-Anne Wynne is fully aware of the hardships being imposed on rural Clare by the crisis in the Mid-West’s health service and has demanded change.
“The opening of existing empty beds and the employment of more nurses at University Hospital Limerick is vital to solve overcrowding crisis.
“Patients in Clare are sick of the diabolical crisis in University Hospital Limerick. The Government have made excuse after excuse for far too long to justify cutbacks in health services. Time is up for Fine Gael,” she said.
Michael Leahy said the HSE should have carried out a thorough assessment of health needs for people in the Mid-West before they downgraded acute hospitals in Ennis and Nenagh and should have provided additional beds and resources in UHL, which didn’t happen.
Mr Leahy warned primary health care services may go down the same route unless family doctors are properly resourced, which would be very cost effective, as they could keep more patients out of hospital.
General Election candidate, David Barrett said people needed to continue campaigning for the return of key health services to the county as UHL can’t cope with the current numbers.
He called on Clare people who wanted change to use their vote on Saturday for radical action.
Theresa O’Donohue said peaceful protests can be a powerful vehicle for change in government policy.
Asked about election candidates who didn’t attend the march, the People Before Profit candidate said if any new deputy doesn’t have their finger on the pulse of what is happening in their local community, it is very hard to legislate for them properly.
“It was humbling to hear peoples’ stories and what it is like to be in ED. We need to stop looking at a two tier health system and get one that works for everyone. We need to start resourcing our hospitals, pay nurses properly and not over work them.
“We need to look at why we are sending people to UHL when we have a facility in Ennis,” she said.
Hilary Tonge, who acted as Master of Ceremonies during the protest, said Ennis and Clare people needed a hospital in the county town with 24-hour casualty cover.
“It is becoming intolerable for people travelling from West and North Clare to attend UHL. It affects everyone, families with young children who can’t go to Ennis Hospital if their child is under five,” she said.
She added the restoration of 24-hour casualty cover in Nenagh and St John’s would take pressure off UHL.
Ferdie O’Donoghue from Ennis warned that in ten or twenty years time the trolley crisis at UHL will be twice as bad following a dramatic increase in Clare’s population.
“University Hospital Limerick will never be able to cope with all the emergency cases in the region. “24-hour casualty cover will have to be re-opened in Ennis and Nenagh if we want to survive.
“Clare people are entitled to have a proper health service, which we haven’t got. There is plenty of money going into the HSE,” he said.