Clare could provide solution to Limerick hospital problems

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The new wing at Ennis Hospital.

A CAMPAIGN is under way to upgrade operating theatres at Ennis Hospital so it can take patients off the waiting list for surgery in University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

And the politician pushing for the Clare hospital to start handling a meaningful share of the day surgery cases at UHL also wants to see down-time in surgical facilities eliminated so that surgery is performed on a 24-hour basis.

With figures showing an increase in the number of people waiting in the University Hospital Limerick for in-patient or day case procedures for more than 18 months, Clare Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley says that Ennis is underfunded and punching below its weight.

In January of this year there were 64 people waiting more than 18 months for procedures excluding endoscopy at UHL. By November, that figure had increased to 142.

The overall waiting list for such procedures had decreased from 3,044 in January of this year to 2,787 in November.

Deputy Dooley says that a solution lies in putting money back into the National Treatment Purchase Fund in the short-term and in spending money to boost facilities and hire more staff in the long-term.

And he has made representations to the HSE on the issue.

Timmy Dooley (left) with Fianna Fáil colleagues Willie O’Dea and Niall Collins at UHL

“Ennis could be doing so much more in terms of talking pressure off the Limerick waiting lists by taking on day procedures. The hospital needs money to upgrade facilities and it could be used to help cut waiting times for patients who have been on the lists far too long,” Deputy Dooley told the Limerick Post.

He believes that an increased spend is needed to reduce the log jam.

“Many private hospitals have spare capacity that can be ramped up quickly. We need to invest money in the medium term to get the lists down and there is some provision in the budget to do that,” he explained.

“We also need to use expensive infrastructure which already exists. Surgical theatres should be used round the clock. We make a huge investment in providing these facilities in hospitals and they are not being fully utilised.

“Spend the money to hire staff and have theatre facilities used round the clock,” he declared.

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