Reopening of emergency departments on Health Forum agenda

UHL overcrowding
Overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick

A MOTION calling for emergency departments in Ennis, Nenagh, and St John’s Hospitals to be reopened in response to overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) will be discussed by members of the Regional Health Forum on Tuesday.

UHL has the only emergency department in the Mid West and chronic overcrowding frequently causes delays for patients and is affecting staff morale.

While Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s have injury clinics and medical assessment units, these don’t offer a 24/7 service.

Independent Tipperary councillor Seamus Morris, who will propose the motion, said the pressures on the emergency department made conditions “chaotic”.

“We pack everyone into Limerick and still they will not reverse the reconfiguration policy, the dangerous reconfiguration policy,” he said.

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He suggested older people who are not in need of specialist services could be diverted to the smaller hospitals.

Clare Green Party councillor Liam Grant, a former paramedic now working with the fire services, said overcrowding caused delays across health services.

“It’s mainly older people on the corridors. They would much rather be in Ennis or Nenagh,” he said, adding people want some dignity when they are ill.

“You can have 15 ambulances parked outside,” he said of paramedics who wait for space to be found for patients.

Both councillors said making people more aware of existing services in Ennis, Nenagh, and St John’s would also help.

Patient advocates from across Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary, acting as the Midwest Hospital Campaign,  asked councillors to highlight the problems.

“A new centre of excellence was promised at University Hospital Limerick but what we got instead was the country’s most consistently overcrowded emergency department,” spokeswoman Noeleen Moran said.

She said they have “a hospital which is understaffed and where healthcare workers are under immense pressure from the beginning to the end of their working day”.