The HSE has said it will not reopen the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department at Ennis General Hospital for the duration of next weeks Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann event which is expected to attract 400,000 visitors.
The A&E in Ennis was closed in 2009 as part of a reconfiguration of services in the mid-west and left Co Clare without an emergency department.
The Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann Executive Committee wrote to the Regional Emergency Management Officer for HSE West requesting that cover at the hospital be extended for the Fleadh.
Secretary Mr Rory Casey asked the HSE to “consider providing extended opening hours (24 hour) cover for Ennis Hospital in order to accept minor injuries from ambulances and/or the provision of an Emergency Department for the duration of the event.”
“Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann will bring an estimated 400,000 overall attendance to the town of Ennis and region from the 14th to the 22nd of August, 2016. The organisers have, in consultation with the HSE Regional Emergency Management Unit, generated a robust Medical Plan for the event which it is hoped will mitigate the impact on the services being provided by the HSE.
The plans put in place by the organisers however would be enhanced further by the provision of the additional services as requested,” Mr Casey added.
A spokesman for the UL Hospital’s Group (ULHG) said: “A ‘temporary’ Emergency Department will not be provided for the period of the Fleadh, as, in addition to Emergency Medicine Consultants and Nurses, a fully functioning Emergency Department requires the support of Diagnostics (at a level above what is provided at Ennis Hospital), ICU, HDU, Surgery, Anaesthetics and Cardiology. This would not be possible to set up on a temporary basis.”
“The Fleadh is a family centred event which will generate, in the main, minor injuries which Ennis Hospital is equipped to deal with through its Local Injury Unit (LIU). Ennis Hospital LIU, which has been in operation since 2013, is open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days per week treating minor injuries in patients over the age of 5 years,” the spokesman said.
“In the event of a major injury or illness, this will be dealt with in the first instance by provisions made in the Fleadh Medical Plan, together with local GPs and Shannondoc. If transfer to the ED in UHL (University Hospital Limerick) is required, this will be managed under the clinical guidance of the Advanced Paramedics of the National Ambulance Service,” he added.
“It is also worth noting that the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) at Ennis Hospital, part of UL Hospitals Group, is now operating 7 days a week. Patients are referred to the MAU by their GP or Shannondoc. UHL provides Emergency Medical Services to the population of the Midwest and does not foresee any change in this during Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann,” the HSE said.