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*Crowds at the most recent protest held by Mid-West Hospital Campaign. Photograph: Martin Molloy

FRUSTRATION has been voiced by the Mid-West Hospital Campaign by the failure of UL Hospitals Group to back up a commitment it issued to hold a meeting focused on overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

Following a proposal at the HSE Regional Health Forum West from Cllr Liam Grant (GP) and Tipperary based, Cllr Seamus Morris (IND) to reopening of emergency departments at Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s, it was agreed to hold a meeting with councillors from the region and that an invitation would also be issued to representatives from the Mid-West Hospital Campaign.

Tuesday (July 19th) was due to be the day of the meeting with Chief Executive of UL Hospitals Group, Colette Cowan on July 6th sending a letter to all Mid-West councillors on the Health Forum which stated that a briefing would take place on July 19th “following on from our commitment made at the Regional Health Forum meeting”.

However within the past week, HSE officials stated that the engagement was a quarterly briefing for TDs, Senators and Regional Health Forum members and was “not related” to the proposal passed in May but in correspondence to attendees, they said the invite was extended to forum members off the back of the “commitment” given.

Members of the Mid-West Hospital Campaign contacted UL Hospitals Group to seek an invite “but were told that only a routine quarterly business meeting was taking place and we were not permitted to attend,” Noeleen Moran of the group told The Clare Echo.

No clarification was received by the health activists when they tried to contact Noreen Spillane directly, the Chief Operations Officer with UL Hospitals Group who in response to Cllr Grant agreed to invite the group to the meeting.

“We cannot get a response from UHL on what is happening in relation to this promised meeting in which it was agreed representatives from the campaign would attend. The Mid-West Hospital Campaign represents families who have been directly impacted by the overcrowding levels at UHL. It is not acceptable to cause further hurt to these families by ignoring their request for clarification on the status of this promised meeting,” Moran stated.

Ballyvaughan native, Noeleen added, “The campaign is extremely disappointed at what its members can only interpret as yet another attempt to sideline the voices of those most affected by their decision making. We cannot allow this to continue and we demand as those who use the service to be given a voice and be listened to. Figures on trolleys and chairs at UHL continue to remain high”.

She claimed, “Based on a conservative calculation last week at least one person a day died as a result of admission to the Emergency Department at UHL”.

A spokesperson for UL Hospitals Group told The Clare Echo, “The meeting of local members of the Regional Health Forum West with UL Hospitals Group, proposed at the Forum’s May meeting by Group Chief Operations Officer, Noreen Spillane, is taking place today, July 19th, as part of a virtual Service Update briefing for the region’s national elected representatives. This decision to extend the invitation to this meeting to RHFW members was made in order to give those members an opportunity to discuss their concerns not only with members of the Group’s Executive Management Team, but also with the CEO of the HSE, Mr Paul Reid, who will also be present at the meeting, as part of his two-day visit to hospital and community health services in Counties Limerick and Clare. No other invites are issued to this meeting, which is held regularly as part of the normal business of the HSE in keeping elected members briefed on healthcare updates in the Mid West”.

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