Changing hospital management like ‘moving deckchairs on the Titanic’ says health campaigner

Mid West Hospitals Campaign spokesperson Mary Cahillane

THE MID West Hospital Campaign has said it is not optimistic that a change in top management would solve any problems at University Hospital Limerick.

Campaign spokeswoman Mary Cahillane told the Limerick Post that “unless we get new management that will work to secure a Level 3 hospital for the Mid West, or reinstate the emergency departments (EDs) in St John’s, Ennis, and Nenagh, it will be like moving the deckchairs on the Titanic”.

Ms Cahillane said that while the MWHC believe that the decision for UHL CEO Colette Cowan to go on leave is the right one, the issues are complex.

“It has been part of the narrative of Minister Stephen Donnelly that there has been mismanagement at the hospital and while there were certainly bad management decisions made, it will take more than a change of management to solve it.”

The CEO went on leave during of one of the worst weeks in the history of UHL in terms of overcrowding.

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Sonya Cotter, who has worked in the HSE’s Special Delivery Unit, was due to take up the position of acting CEO for the group this week.

Ms Cahillane said that “as long as we have no level three hospital and only one ED for 400,000 people, there will always be problems”.

The members of the MWHC were before a Dáil petitions committee for the second time last week.

In November, the members presented their petition with 15,000 signatures calling for the re-opening of the EDs in hospitals in the Mid West.

The campaign and the committee had invited the Health Minister, and Professor Brian Lenehan, Clinical Director at UHL, a representative of the authors of the HIQA report on the ED, and a representative of SIPTU to attend the latest meeting to answer questions on the recommendations which the MWHC had put.

All four sent apologies that they could not attend.

Last week, UHL broke all previous overcrowding records since the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) began its daily tally of those waiting on trolleys for in-hospital beds in 2006 when 150 patients were waiting on trolleys on February 7.

A HSE spokesperson told the Limerick Post that “when a delegated official is on leave, there are always acting arrangements put in place to ensure there is authority to discharge functions and operate services at all times.”

“Ms Sonya Cotter, Assistant National Director of the HSE, is to be the acting CEO of ULHG from February 14 for the purpose of covering leave.”