No Limerick councillors at regional health forum meetings

Section of the crowd at a Mid West Hospital Campaign protest in February 2020.

LIMERICK City and County Council’s seven representatives on the Regional Health Forum have been taken to task for not responding to the overcrowding crisis at University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

The criticism comes from the Mid-West Hospitals Campaign which highlights the Limerick councillors’ lack of engagement and failure to attend meetings of the Forum at which public health and social service issues are raised with senior hospital management and HSE officials.

In a statement issued to the Limerick Post, the Mid-West Hospitals Campaign expressed disappointment in the response of Limerick representatives to the crisis at UHL.

This was sparked by the failure of the Limerick councillors to support the Campaign’s call for the upgrading of local hospitals and the reopening of the emergency departments at Ennis, Nenagh and St. John’s Hospital in Limerick.

When none of them responded to a request to raise the issue at the May meeting of the Regional Health Forum, the motion was submitted by councillors from Tipperary and Clare, and passed unanimously.

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The request for a follow-up meeting with management at UHL and the HSE was made by Tipperary councillor Seamie Morris and Clare councillor Liam Grant.

This meeting, which will also be attended by senior HSE officials, members of the Mid-West Hospitals Campaign and the Regional Health Forum, will be held next Tuesday.

“Limerick has seven councillors on the Regional Health Forum and, despite being contacted by the campaign, not one of them responded,” the statement from the Hospital Campaign explained.

“When there were 111 people on trolleys in January, they were absent for the February meeting of the Forum. All seven Limerick members were also missing from the March meeting. This level of engagement is unacceptable.

“The Mid-West Hospital Campaign calls on all members of the Forum from Limerick to now use this opportunity to advance the urgent case for a Model 3 Hospital in the region which would mean the return of another 24/7 emergency department,” the statement added.

“Attendances continue to increase in Nenagh, Ennis and St John’s and the Injury Units at these hospitals have the capacity to do more still. Yet St John’s Hospital is only opened 11 hours a day when they clearly have the capacity to do more if they were properly staffed and resourced.

“With its close proximity to UHL it’s a no brainer that some of the emergency department presentations to UHL should be transferred to St John’s to stop hundreds of people lying on trolleys in UHL daily.

“Using Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals as the first point of contact for the people of Clare and Tipperary means that emergency cases would reach hospital sooner within the “golden hour”. Some less serious cases need never end up at UHL ensuring space and timely intervention for those who need more critical care,” the statement concludes.

The seven Limerick councillors on the Regional Health Forum are John Egan, Dan McSweeney and John Sheahan (FG); Francis Foley and Kevin Sheehan (FF)  Sean Hartigan (GP) and Frankie Daly (Ind).