Elected representatives of the Ennis Municipal District want to see the accident and emergency unit at the county’s hospital reopened.
Their call comes ahead of Sunday’s planned protest/public meeting which is calling on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris to open the Ennis A&E in a bid to alleviate the problem of overcrowding in hospitals all over the Mid-West.
Fianna Fáil Cllr Tom McNamara raised the matter at the January meeting of the EMD. “We’re the worst of the whole areas” while referring to the figures of sixty six patients on trolleys at the University Hospital Limerick earlier this week. Alongside Cllr Ann Norton, McNamara serves as a member of the HSE Mid West Forum, “over the last two years we have highlighted and pushed the development of the A&E, these are issues that should have been dealt with for the last two years”.
McNamara believes a whole root and branch of the health system is warranted, “we were moved into an A&E service that wasn’t fit for purpose”. He called on Clare’s four elected TD’s to raise the matter at a higher level and outlined his tiredness of hearing about targets, “there is no point talking about a ten year plan to deal with an emergency”.
Ann Norton echoed the sentiments of McNamara, she labelled it “an absolute and total disgrace”. Norton revealed that members of the HSE Mid-West Forum received a press release during the week with no mention of the “crisis in Limerick”. She complimented the staff in Limerick but expressed the view that the planned A&E for Limerick will not be opening in 2017. “The HSE is getting worse each year and I’ve been dealing with them for the last nineteen years. This has gone beyond trolleys, they are now putting patients health at risk. These people are on huge money and need to be answerable”, the Independent Cllr added.
“People are dying, Clare people are dying, I personally know of people dying on waiting lists” said Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy. The Fianna Fáil member admitted that her party had a significant role to play in the closure of the Ennis A&E but wants to see it reopened immediately. “I’m sticking my neck out here but it reminds me of a bureaucracy gone all wrong” she said before encouraging councillors to attend Sunday’s protest. She uttered his disappointment with TD’s Joe Carey and Michael Harty who she feels are not behind a move to reopen Ennis while Ms Colleran Molloy highlighted her disgust with the appearance of HSE National Director with Responsibility for Emergency Management & the Winter Initiative Damien McCallion on RTÉ’s Prime Time on Thursday night.
Fine Gael Cllr Johnny Flynn informed those present in the chamber that he previously worked as a part-time porter at Ennis General Hospital before agreeing with the view to reopen the hospital’s twenty four hour A&E. He believes with a theatre and lab available the hospital has the sufficient needs to meet demands. “Shannondoc has been undermined, our ambulance cover is inadequate”. He added “We have a dispersed population with an ageing profile”. Flynn is fearful of what would happen if a major accident occurs in the region “we’ve lost three major hospitals, if there was any sort of a middle to large scale accident in this region it would be catastrophic”.
Pat Daly told the meeting that he is a regular visitor to the University Hospital Limerick. ““Limerick is a bottleneck it’s just not working and people are fed up of it” the Fianna Fáil councillor said while suggesting Ennis be upgraded to a model three hospital. Daly is keen to see the doors of Ennis’ A&E open for the public and outlined his disappointment with the lack of consultants at the county hospital. “We can spend millions on motorways but we can’t bring in a consultant”.
“Within the HSE we’re the poor relation” outlined Fine Gael’s Mary Howard. “Limerick is like a third world hospital” she noted before recommending that the management system be looked at. Howard spoke of the investment in Ennis over the last decade “all the things needed bar the personnel are in Ennis”. Howard referred to the many times she and members of her family had to go to the county A&E down through the years, “we were never let down by Ennis, it was never a centre of excellence”. She highlighted the recent high level of flight diversions to Shannon Airport with ill passengers and proposed that Ennis would be a better location for these patients to travel to rather than Limerick. The Ennis councillor encouraged the people of Clare to show ownership by supporting Sunday’s protest.
Cllr Paul Murphy disclosed to members of the EMD that he resigned from the HSE Mid-West Forum due to frustration and praised Ann Norton and Tom McNamara for their work. In supporting the call to reopen Ennis, the Fine Gael councillor highlighted its importance to the entire county, “people in West Clare are out on a limb they need Ennis”. The only remaining councillor in the district, James Breen was absent for the discussion.
With a clear view of support from the Ennis councillors to regenerate the county hospital, Cllr Colleran Molloy asked that the consensus be communicated to Clare’s four TD’s and one Senator immediately. It was agreed to write a letter on behalf of the entire municipal district seeking an emergent review of planning of health service in the region, review of twenty four hour care in Ennis and an improvement to ambulance cover.