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Noeleen Moran addressing a rally calling for the upgrading of Ennis hospital. Photograph by Eugene McCafferty

Health campaigners: Ennis is the right place, now is the right time

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MEMBERS of the regional health forum for the Midwest are being urged to make the case for the restoration of services at Ennis General, when they meet senior hospital officials next week. 

In a statement, the Midwest Hospital Campaign, Clare, outlined that a meeting is to take place next Tuesday (July 19) between the management of University Hospital Limerick (UHL) and forum members representing Clare, Limerick and Tipperary.

It follows a unanimous call for the restoration of Emergency Department (ED) services in Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s in Limerick, at the May meeting of the HSE West Regional Health Forum. The request for a follow-up meeting was made by Clare Green Councillor Liam Grant and Tipperary Independent Councillor Séamie Morris.

“The Midwest Hospital Campaign Clare calls on all members of the forum to use this opportunity to advance the case to upgrade Ennis Hospital, to a model 3, which would mean the return of  24/7 Emergency Department to the county,” a statement from Ballyvaughan campaigner Noeleen Moran said.

The results of an unannounced inspection by HIQA, published last month, found that conditions in the ED at UHL posed a significant risk to the provision of care and to the health and welfare of patients. As well as finding that the overcrowded and understaffed ED posed a significant risk to the provision of safe, quality, person-centred care, HIQA found the dignity, privacy and confidentiality of patients was compromised.

Campaigners noted that, in its response, management at UHL pointed out the lack of a Model 3 hospital within the UL Hospitals Group (ULHG). 

“The Centre of Excellence promised in 2009 has not materialised neither have safer patient outcomes,” the statement said. “This is evident from the HIQA findings published on June 17, 2022. The reconfiguration strategy has most certainly failed and this has now been acknowledged by the Minister of Health.”

The statement also highlighted recent data showing a rise in Clare’s population of more than 7% in the last six years.

“The latest Census data shows there are now 127,419 people living in Clare alone and in addition there are an estimated 1.6 million tourists visiting Clare every year,” the statement outlined.

“Yet there is no 24-hour emergency health provision in the county. Ennis should never have been downgraded. There is an opportunity now to right that wrong. Using Ennis Hospital as the first point of contact for the people of Clare means that emergency cases would reach hospital sooner within the ‘golden hour’.

“Some less serious cases need never end up at UHL ensuring space and timely intervention for those who need more critical care. Sláintecares vision is for one universal health service for all, providing the right care, in the right place, at the right time. The people of Clare deserve the right care, Ennis is the right place, Now is the right time.”

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