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Councillor Ann Norton believes full time carers and people with disabilities should be prioritised as part of the national vaccination programme. Photograph by John Kelly.

No change to status of Ennis General despite upgrades

DESPITE a number of upgrades, Ennis General Hospital won’t see its former status return, and will remain a Model 2 facility, the Chief Clinical Director of the UL Hospitals Group (ULHG) has said.

Professor Brian Lenehan told a briefing for local authority members that while new operating theatres are planned for the site in the county town, they won’t change the status of the facility within the hospitals group. He noted progress in a number of areas at Ennis General, including a new outpatient department which is now equipped and set to open in the first quarter of next year. “We will increase the range of services available in Ennis over the course of the year,” Professor Lenehan said. “The Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) and the Local Injuries Unit (LIU) will see upgrades. The MAU is now open seven days a week and sees 32 patients a day. University Hospital Limerick (UHL) would struggle without it.”

Professor Lenehan described the building of two new theatres as “the last piece of the puzzle”. “We are awaiting funding and thank the council for their support with those,” he added.

Responding to the professor’s briefing, Councillor Ann Norton appealed for ULHG to consider upgrading Ennis General. “University Hospital Limerick (UHL) will always be over-crowded irrespective of Covid-19,” she said. “People have been afraid to go to the hospital, but they will return so Ennis General needs to be upgraded to a Model 4. We are always the poor relation and have been fighting for Ennis for many years.”

Councillor Johnny Flynn described the work done in Ennis as “extraordinary”. He agreed that at least a Model 3 facility is needed in Ennis. “I worked as a hospital porter when I was a student,” he noted. “I was also formerly a Chief Fire Officer and know the role of a Model 3 in the event of a major emergency in the region. Limerick would be overwhelmed without that. There is huge concern that there is only one major hospital in the region.”

Professor Lenehan told the meeting that the new operating theatres will not change the designation of Ennis General as “an important Model 2 facility within ULHG”. “There are six hospitals in the group and they aren’t competing for finance, but working to deliver the best possible local service,” he said. “The new operating theatres will improve the suite of services, but they will predominately be for day-care surgery. We don’t envisage overnight surgical cases. Ennis General has good bed stock and excellent MAU and LIU facilities. It will have excellent theatres when they are funded. It is a Model 2 in name only.”

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 NUI 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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