Doctor shortage behind closure of Limerick injury unit

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St John's Hospital

A LACK of doctors was the reason behind the recent temporary closure of St John’s Hospital’s injury unit in Limerick City.

Sister units in Nenagh and Ennis were closed for the same reason, according to University of Limerick Hospitals Group chief executive Colette Cowan at a meeting of the Regional Health Forum West.

She was answering a question from Clare Green Party Councillor Liam Grant who asked for an overview of the staffing shortages in the injury units.

“How did we end up in a situation where these injury units were temporarily closed? What is being done to ensure that this does not happen again?” he asked.

Professor Cowan acknowledged that “staffing issues” were at the heart of the temporary closure of the units.

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Describing the closures as “regrettable”, she said that advance notice of closures were given to the public through mainstream and social media, “including advice on the most appropriate alternatives to access care”.

“These staffing issues related in the main to junior doctor resources after the annual changeover and to Covid-19. Plans are at an advanced stage to stabilise medical staffing for these important services and we expect that these temporary closures will be kept to a minimum going forward,” she said.

“The recent disruptions in service are unfortunate as the increase in activity through all three injury units is a very positive development.

“In 2021, a total of 35,860 patients attended our injury units, meaning almost one in three patients who needed unscheduled care in our group appropriately accessed it in Ennis, Nenagh, or St John’s.

“This exceeded the level of presentations across our injury units prior to the pandemic. In the first five months of 2022, attendances at Ennis (+26 per cent) and Nenagh (+60 per cent) injury units have increased significantly.”