Reopening Ennis and Nenagh EDs won’t solve Limerick hospital problems

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.

HEALTH Minister Stephen Donnelly has indicated that emergency departments in Ennis or Nenagh hospitals will not be reopened, despite “unacceptable” levels of patient overcrowding and delays in the emergency department at University Hospital Limerick.

“The clinical view on this is unambiguous. Doctors would say no because if you’ve got something seriously wrong with you, and you go to a small hospital it doesn’t have all the specialties. You may need one of those specialties, and it’s not there – now you’re in trouble, because now they have to get you to the bigger hospital anyway, and time matters in these cases.”

As well additional beds and resources, Minister Donnelly said that local injury clinics will have to “take on more of the load” to alleviate pressure on the Limerick emergency department.

He said he has directed the HSE to significantly increase the number of Emergency Medicine Consultants at UHL.

“The emergency department in Limerick is currently struggling with only eight Emergency Medicine  Consultants and there should probably be about 16, so, they are not even close to the numbers they need”.

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He added that he has directed the HSE to fast-track these additional consultant posts which he said can normally take between 12 to 18 months to put in place.

“What I want to see in UHL is senior decision makers on the floor, 16 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said.

The lack of a seven days a week, full-time, non-emergency diagnostic service at UHL, which staff claim can result in patients blocking beds for days while they wait for scans, is also exacerbating pressure on the hospital.

“In Limerick, and in a lot of emergency departments, if you present late on a Friday night, and you need a scan, there may be no diagnostics available to you until Monday morning or even Tuesday. The solution to that is run the diagnostic machines over the weekend, so that also requires more resourcing,” he explained.