A PROTEST march planned for this Saturday aims to bring Limerick City to a standstill in pursuit of demands for urgent action to alleviate the overcrowding crisis at University Hospital Limerick (UHL)
The protest, organised by the Mid West Hospital Campaign, is demanding that 24/7 emergency departments are reopened in St John’s, Ennis and Nenagh hospitals.
The protest will be meeting at 11am on Saturday (January 21) at City Hall before heading down O’Connell Street.
The organisers expect that the protest will “bring the city to a standstill”.
Ruairí Fahy, People Before Profit representative for Limerick City North said that “the change to accept patients arriving in an ambulance into Ennis Hospital if they don’t require immediate critical care is a positive step and should be expanded to Nenagh Hospital to reduce the load on UHL”.
“The lack of 24 hour access to emergency care outside of UHL for a region spanning Clare, Limerick, Tipperary, and parts of Cork, over 400,000 people in total, has cost lives, and will continue to do so unless the former services are restored.
“But this is only the tip of the iceberg with our healthcare system. There aren’t enough GPs, we don’t focus on preventative care leading to much more expensive emergency care, we lack appropriate supports for discharging patients, the problems go on and on.
Mr Fahy pointed to a call last week for people not to attend the emergency department at UHL unless it was absolutely necessary. The People Before Profit representative added that “in many areas there is no alternative for accessing health care after 8pm”.
“Ultimately we are facing the costs of our two tier health system where the private hospital system can only exist as long as we have a non-functional public alternative.
“The focus on creating a for-profit healthcare system over the last 25 years has left us with ever-increasing waiting lists and hospitals constantly running in crisis mode, costing us all our health and driving many to buy private health insurance because they can’t take the pain any longer.
“To address the issue, we need to develop a single tier, public health system across the island with a focus on preventative care to reduce the need to attend emergency departments in the first place.
“We also need an expansion of publicly owned community care centres and nursing homes to allow patients to be discharged for appropriate care,” he concluded.