Breen raises doubts about over the ability of Mid-West Region’s Hospital Services to cope with extra demands

January 21st, 2010 - Pat Breen

Fine Gaels’ Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen has raised doubts over the ability of the Hospital Services in the Mid-West Region to cope with the extra demands being place on the service following the centralisation of Acute Hospital Services to the Mid-West Regional Hospital in Limerick. Deputy Breen has also voiced his concern that more efforts were not made by the HSE to ensure that Clare people were made aware of the hours of operation and the services available at the Accident and Emergency Department at the MWRH in Ennis, following the decision to move ahead with the reconfiguration of Acute Services in the Mid West Region. Deputy Breen also claims that confidence is being eroded in Ennis General Hospital because of the slow pace at which developments are being delivered to the Hospital.

“The overcrowding at the Mid-West Regional Hospital in Dooradoyle, Limerick has led nurses to announce today that they are stepping up their Industrial Action at the Hospital. I have spoken with several constituents of mine in recent times who expressed concerns about the situation in Limerick. They have described the situation as chaotic and it is not just in the Accident and Emergency Department. The overflow of patients is causing overcrowding in several wards throughout the Hospital. According to the Daily Trolley watch figures released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisations there were 42 patients on trolleys at the Hospital on the 13th January 2010, 26 on the 14th January 2010, 33 on the 15th January and on Monday of this week, 18th January 2010 there were 24 patients on trolleys. I consistently wae HSE to ensure that Clare people were made aware of the hours of operation and the services available at the Accident and Emergency Department at the MWRH in Ennis, following the decision to move ahead with the reconfiguration of Acute Services in the Mid West Region. Deputy Breen also claims that confidence is being eroded in Ennis General Hospital because of the slow pace at which developments are being delivered to the Hospital.

“The overcrowding at the Mid-West Regional Hospital in Dooradoyle, Limerick has led nurses to announce today that they are stepping up their Industrial Action at the Hospital. I have spoken with several constituents of mine in recent times who expressed concerns about the situation in Limerick. They have described the situation as chaotic and it is not just in the Accident and Emergency Department. The overflow of patients is causing overcrowding in several wards throughout the Hospital. According to the Daily Trolley watch figures released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisations there were 42 patients on trolleys at the Hospital on the 13th January 2010, 26 on the 14th January 2010, 33 on the 15th January and on Monday of this week, 18th January 2010 there were 24 patients on trolleys. I consistently warned Minister Harney and the HSE that the hours of operation at the Accident and Emergency Department in Ennis should not have been reduced until at the very least the necessary resources were in place in Limerick to cope with the influx of patients from Ennis and Nenagh. What was the point of removing services from our Local Hospitals when the so called Centre of Excellence in Limerick was not provided with additional resources?

“While the recent bad weather may account for some additional people presenting at the A&E, the reality is that the HSE put the horse before the cart. They removed night A&E Services from both Ennis and Nenagh without firstly having additional facilities available in Limerick to cope with the extra demand. In spite of the best efforts of Hospital Staff the reality is that no hospital can cope with extra pressure if they have only limited resources.”
“No additional beds have been made available in Dooradoyle, there is no Critical Care Unit or improved diagnostic services.
“And the situation could get very much worse before any extra resources are put in place. Reports suggest that the HSE Service Plan for 2010 will result in the closure of 1,100 acute beds and the Chief Executive of the HSE Prof Brendan Drum has confirmed that a reduction in acute beds and in the number of people being admitted to hospital is included in the Plan. Nationally, a reduction of 40,000 in-patients beds is suggested and we will have to await publication of the Plan to access the implications that this will have for both Ennis General Hospital and Limerick Regional Hospital.”
However, the Minister for Health and Children has washed her hands of any responsibility. Only this week, I raised the matter with her by way of parliamentary question as to whether she intends to address the problems at Limerick Regional Hospital by providing additional resources, however, she says that as “this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for reply”. It is typical of this Government’s policy of passing the buck.
“Confidence is also being eroded in Ennis General Hospital because of the slow pace at which developments are being delivered to the Hospital.
For example, after years of campaigning for a CAT scanner, when the unit was finally commissioned in July 2009, the service was suspended again in September 2009, as the long term temporary Radiologist at Ennis General Hospital left to take up a position in the UK. Services are set to resume again at the Hospital next month, however, disruption to any services is not helpful in building confidence in the Hospital.”
“I understand that in relation to the development of a new Endoscopy unit at Ennis General Hospital is currently at design stage and that a Fire Certificate application has been submitted and a decision is due next month. After that, the HSE anticipate that they will then proceed to tender stage. However, at Nenagh General Hospital, the green light was given very quickly when Independent Deputy Michael Lowry’s support for Budget 2010 was required.”
“According to figures released by the HSE earlier this month there were 10,000 patients less attending Ennis & Nenagh Hospitals between January 2009 to October 2009 compared to the same period in 2008.”
“Those same figures also revealed that the number of cases presenting at Ennis General Hospital was 26 per cent lower than the previous year 10,687 A&E cases compared to 14,435 the previous year and interestingly the number of cases presenting at Nenagh General Hospital did not make such a dramatic drop.”
“The reason for this I believe is that people are confused and unsure as to what services are available at Ennis General Hospital, indeed, a lot of people in Clare are under the impression that doors are closed at the Accident and Emergency Department at Ennis General Hospital.”
“I would encourage the people of County Clare to support Ennis General Hospital. It is very much business as usual at the Accident and Emergency Department at the Hospital during the hours of 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. daily. After 8.00 p.m. patients can be admitted to Ennis General Hospital if referred by their Local General Practitioner.”
“It is very important that the people of County Clare continue to present at the Accident and Emergency Department at the Hospital, otherwise, my fear is that the HSE will use the decline in the number of patients presenting at the Hospital to reduce bed capacity.”

ENDS.