THE TRANSFER of patients to Ennis hospital for emergency care will continue for the “long term”.

That’s according to Clare TD, Violet Anne Wynne (IND) who said she has received assurances that the transfer of patients by ambulance to the medical assessment unit at Ennis is set to continue beyond the current overcrowding crisis at University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

Deputy Wynne was speaking following a meeting between senior HSE officials, Oireacthas members in the Mid-West, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (FG) and Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly (FF).

However Deputy Wynne said the HSE gave no assurance that extra resources would be provided at Ennis hospital.

Speaking after the meeting, Deputy Wynne confirmed; “I have spoken with the CEO of UL Hospitals Group Prof. Colette Cowan, and she has assured me that the transferring of patients by ambulance to the MAU at Ennis Hospital for emergency care where possible will continue beyond the end of this current massive level of overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick. I have sought assurances that resources will be ramped up to ensure that this new MAU pathway will not detract from the existing services provided at Ennis Hospital. I have not received those assurances; however, I have been informed that the management will meet again next Monday to discuss the possible increase in resourcing required at the hospital”.

Deputy Wynne said she will be requesting that the Minister for Health establish a task force “to re-evaluate the decisions made to close the Emergency Department at Ennis Hospital and what the best steps forward are to ensure that all hospitals within the UL Hospitals Group are operating to the best of their ability to lessen and keep the pressure off the bottleneck in the Emergency Department at UHL”.

She continued; “I can confirm that since the beginning of the trial on both Monday and Tuesday, three patients were taken by ambulance to Ennis with two of them able to be treated there onsite and no need to add to the overcrowding in Limerick. This is hugely significant, but it is just a first step. It is vital now that pressure is kept on the Minister and Taoiseach to see the increase of the MAU hour to 18 or 24 hours a day opening, not merely eight. The next step beyond a 24-hour MAU must be the addition of a full Emergency Department – the upgrade of Ennis to a model 3 hospital to complement the model 4 at UHL.

“As we are all aware, UHL is the only model 4 hospital in the country without a complementary model 3. The massive overcrowding crisis that we have witnessed over the past few weeks is a direct result of the stripping of emergency services from Ennis in 2009 and it is now clearer than ever that the only thing to ensure we are not faced with the same crisis this time next year is to upgrade Ennis to a model three hospital”.

In a statement management and staff at UL Hospitals Group/HSE Mid West Community Healthcare welcomed the two hour virtual meeting with politicians.

Prof Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group, said, “This was a very valuable engagement initiated by Minister Donnelly. We listened carefully to all concerns raised by Oireachtas members and we look forward to working with all public representatives in better meeting the growing demand for healthcare in the region into the future”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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