ADEQUATE STAFFING LEVELS must exist at the Ennis Injury Unit to prevent sudden closures.

Short-term staffing deficits led to the temporary closure of the injury unit in August for one day. Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) has requested Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly (FF) “to put in place a contingency plan to ensure staffing levels are in place, so we don’t have a reoccurrence of the closure of the Ennis injury unit”.

When announcing the closure, a spokesperson for UL Hospitals Group stated, “This decision has been made to ensure patient safety, which we strive to protect at all times.

Patient safety is lacking when West Clare residents have “to travel an extra half hour for treatment,” Cllr McGettigan flagged. She noted that attendances at the injury unit have increased for the six months of this year. “For the people of Clare this is no good enough, should be no closures,” the Shannon woman commented.

Such closures were “quite frightening,” Cllr Mary Howard (FG) maintained. “It is worrying for the flu season and a potential COVID spike in the winter,” she said. “The local injury unit in Ennis is well used, it needs a staffing arrangement, there will be pinch points and they must be dealt with in a more efficient way,” the Ennis representative added.

Provision of a “fantastic service” has been evident at the unit, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) believed. He supported the call for the contingency plan and felt the Minister needed to be “sensitive” to the request. “Centres of Excellence have their place but you also have to have local support units,” he said.

The HSE need to “take note” of the motion, Cllr Pat Daly (FF) opined, “it is important staffing levels are put in place”. Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) remarked, “the injury unit is very effective but it needs to be properly staffed”. Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) was in agreement, “the injury unit is crucial to the 120,000 people in Clare and the amount of visitors we have”.

Better preparation must be evident from UL Hospitals Group, Cllr Ann Norton (IND) stressed. “UHL are continuously advertising the injury unit in Ennis and then close it due to staff difficulties. If our CEO knew staff weren’t available, he would have a contingency plan in place. I do believe UHL need to put a contingency plan in place”.

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