Ambulances to bring some Limerick emergency department patients to Ennis

AMBULANCES responding to 112/999 calls in the Mid-West are to bring non-urgent cases to Ennis General Hospital from next Monday as part of a new strategy to relieve overcrowding in the emergency department at University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

Since 2009, the model 4 UHL has provided the only 24-hour emergency department service for a population of around 400,000 after accident and emergency services were closed in Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s Hospital, which are all model 2 hospitals.

Under the 2009 Accident and Emergency reconfiguration policy, ambulances could only transport 112/999 patients to the emergency department at UHL, bypassing St Johns, Ennis, and Nenagh.

However ambulances are to be begin transporting 112/999 patients who don’t require critical care in the Limerick to Ennis under the new protocols from next Monday.

All urgent 112/999 patients will continue to be prioritised at UHL as it is the only hospital in the region that is equipped to treat critically ill patients.

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Correspondence sent today to all National Ambulance Service (NAS) staff in the Mid-West stated: “From 8am  on Monday, January 9, 112/999 patients can be transported directly to the Medical Assessment Unit in Ennis Hospital providing the patient meets the agreed clinical criteria and has been accepted by the MAU Physician in Ennis.”

A source said: “Obviously things are changing if paramedics are allowed back into Ennis. There is obviously a new protocol that if a patient fits the criteria, paramedics can bring them to Ennis rather than bringing them directly to Limerick.

“It’s an admittance that a mistake was made years ago shutting down the accident and emergency units in St Johns, Ennis and Nenagh.

“You have a catchment of 400,000 people all heading to one hospital. It’s ridiculous. Paramedics were bypassing hospitals to go to UHL.

“Ambulances were picking up patients living a few feet from St Johns Hospital and couldn’t bring the patient there because they had to bring them to UHL. It has been an absolutely crazy situation.”