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Non-critical patients can now be transported directly to the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) at Ennis Hospital in a bid to ease overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick.

Non-Critical Patients Are Transported Directly To Ennis Hospital

Non-critical patients can now be transferred directly by ambulance to the Medical Assessment Unit in Ennis Hospital as part of a new pilot project to ease chronic overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick.

Paramedics were left with no option but to transport all Clare patients directly to UHL via ambulance following the controversial removal of 24-hour casualty cover from Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals in April 2009.

The Mid-West Hospital Campaign has been informed this new emergency pathway will be accessible from Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays.

The patient must meet agreed clinical criteria and has to be accepted by the MAU physician in Ennis Hospital.

The Mid-West Hospital Campaign has welcomed this announcement as a “stepping stone in the right direction” towards its desired objective concerning the return of around the clock emergency cover at Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals.

A spokesperson thanked all the people involved in the Friends of Ennis Hospital, “Nenagh needs its A and E” and “Limerick’s HSE not for me” for working so hard to achieve this significant change.

“We hope that proper resources will follow this announcement and we will be continuing to campaign for the reopening of the ED’s.”

A long-time advocate of enhancing the roles of Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s Hospitals to relieve overcrowding and staffing issues at University Hospital Limerick, Deputy Joe Carey said that the decision to divert ambulance cases from Limerick to Ennis is a practical solution to a complex problem.

Ahead of a meeting with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly next week, Deputy Carey said the HSE and the Minister need to examine an enhanced role for the Model Two hospitals in the region.

“There is a need to build additional bed capacity at Ennis General Hospital by adding new wards and extending the opening hours of the medical assessment unit and the minor injuries unit, which was recently refurbished at a cost of €2 million” he explained.

“In the short term, the opening hours of the Ennis MAU need to be extended from the current timescale of 8am to 6pm to divert more non-critical patients away from the Emergency Department at UHL.

The same pathways now needs to be developed for Nenagh General Hospital and for St. John’s Hospital, which will also reduce the pressure on the University Hospital Limerick.

“I have met with consultants who work at the coal-face in the emergency department at UHL to hear first-hand how this crisis can be addressed, ahead of a meeting I have arranged with Minister Stephen Donnelly early next week. I have also raised my deep concerns with the Taoiseach and with management at the University of Limerick Hospital Group.

” There is a serious bed capacity shortfall in the Mid-West region. Despite an investment of more than €100 million along with the recruitment of additional consultants, doctors, nurses and medical staff, UHL still experiences the worst overcrowding of any hospital in the State.

“These overcrowded conditions are dangerous for patients, as well as the doctors, nurses and staff who work extremely hard in the most challenging of environments. There is a need for a collective and immediate response from the Government and the HSE to take control of this extremely serious situation,” Deputy Carey declared.

” I strongly support the proposal to build an elective-only hospital to cater for patients outside of UHL. An elective-only hospital needs to be prioritised for the Mid-West ahead of any other region because of the shortage of beds in the system.

“The Sláintecare plan recommends that three elective-only hospitals be built – one each in Dublin, Cork and Galway. This policy clearly needs to change and priority must be given to delivering an elective-only hospital for the Mid-West.

“It is of critical importance that it be prioritised and that every effort be made by the State to fast-track its delivery.

“Private hospitals played an important role during the Covid crisis and their services should now be contracted to cater for elective patients at UHL and deal with the extraordinary waiting lists for procedures,” Deputy Carey concluded.


Dan Danaher

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