MAYOR of Clare Joe Arkins said he has decided he will never willingly go back for treatment at the emergency department in University Hospital Limerick.
At a meeting of Clare County Council, the mayor said he had spent a night and a day on a trolley in the hospital and that he “decided I’d never be there again if I was conscious”.
He made his comments as the council passed a motion calling on the Minister for Health, the HSE and the management of University Hospital Limerick to intervene to stop overcrowding in the emergency department and to stop people being kept on trolleys for long periods of time.
The motion was put down by Fianna Fáil’s Pat Hayes, who said the current situation is “a total disgrace” and that there had not been proper preparation for scaling back at Ennis and Nenagh.
He claimed when the Minister for Health made a visit there, people on trolleys were moved into other hospitals.
“It’s a crisis situation at present and people with major illnesses are on trolleys.”
He said everyone currently running for election will be hearing about the issue on the doorsteps and that it is an indictment of the HSE, its management and the Minister for Health.
Councillor Joe Cooney said he has met “a lot of angry people” who are upset about their experiences.
Fianna Fáil’s Brian Meaney said grievances are frequently raised at Health Forum West meetings and that assurances that had been made about the future of services in the region have not been lived up to.
“There were promises that there would be no shortage of ambulance cover and no shortage of paramedic cover but we are left with serious blanks in emergency access to A & E.”
Councillor Meaney also warned that the number of people who have dispensed with health insurance is going to “put an enormous burden on the health service”.
He said many younger people had given up their health insurance, having been forced to make “a stark economic decision”, while he also warned that the increased pressure will lead to “chaotic moments at many A & Es”.
Councillor James Breen told The Clare Champion this week that his wife had a terrible experience when she brought someone to the hospital.
“My wife, Eileen, was at the Regional Hospital on Monday with a very sick patient and she stayed with her all day at the hospital. At 8.30pm, a nurse came to my wife and asked her to give up her chair for a patient because they had no trolleys. She was shocked. She felt awful, the nurses there are doing their best but it’s a desperate situation.”
He also said trade unions should “rear up” and seek to improve working conditions for their members. “It’s about time that the union got tough, that they stop talking and take action by protesting outside the Department of Health and the Dáil. This can’t go on. There is endless pressure on the nurses working over there in the Regional and it can’t be allowed to continue.”
Councillor Breen also commented on the recent closure of Cahercalla day surgical unit. “What I am hearing from people is they are very concerned about the recent closure of the surgical unit at Cahercalla. It’s a lack of another medical service in County Clare. We’ve lost enough and we can’t afford to lose anymore. If it is a case of a shortage of money, then our Oireachtas members should have tried to secure an allocation of funding to keep it open over the rough period until it was buoyant again.”