October 21, 2021
Minister Donnelly must fast-track the expansion of services in Ennis Hospital – Violet-Anne Wynne TD

Sinn Féin TD for Clare Violet-Anne Wynne has called for the proposed expansion of services in the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) in Ennis General Hospital to be in place in time for the fast-approaching Winter season. 

Teachta Wynne said:

“In December 2020 I welcomed the additional €286,000 allocated by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) for an expansion of services in Ennis General Hospital. 

“Here we are, almost one year down the line and the expansion is still very much in a theoretical stage. The units of service have been increased by four slots Monday to Friday, which is obviously a good start. But the fact that personnel are still being recruited shows how slow and ineffective these changes are. 

“The allocation from the NTPF intended on upscaling services in Ennis General by 40 units, from 156 to 204, and I have written to Minister Donnelly to ask for a concrete commitment for when these services will be in place.

“The health system is in crisis and needs emergency resources and staffing to deal with a chronic lack of capacity. Since elected, I have been advocating for increased community health services, including the restoration of localised ShannonDoc services and the development of the long-awaited primary healthcare centre in Kilrush. 

“University Hospital Limerick (UHL) has experienced unprecedented trolley numbers in recent weeks, up to 85 people were waiting on just one day earlier this month. The Irish Nurses and Midwives have expressed grave concern that the situation is going to degenerate as Winter sets in.  

“It’s nonsensical that the people of Clare are expected to travel to Limerick Emergency Department where they know they will have to wait on trolley, for medical attention that could and should be available locally.

“The staff are working under exceptionally difficult circumstances and are doing their best, but even the escalation plan put in place to resolve these issues is not enough. There’s simply not enough staff. 

“The Neurological Alliance of Ireland have flagged that UHL needs 11 neurological nurses and at present only has 3. That is a shortfall of 8. When there isn’t enough staff, patients are forced to wait unnecessarily during hospital visits – something that needs to be avoided due to Covid-19. 

“Not to mention the added strain and workload on the existing staff in such circumstances – nobody benefits from vacant posts, not the public nor the staff. Filling these vacancies must be a priority going forward, and furthermore these posts must be filled in a timely manner. 

“This makes sense and that’s what we need more of action that makes sense to tackle the issues that are affecting our people.  

“Overcrowding is spiralling and the fact that Budget 2022 offered little in the way of the drastic reform needed is insult to injury.  

“Sinn Féin’s immediate priority would be to make healthcare accessible and affordable by cutting waiting lists and cutting the cost of care. There are more than 900,000 people on waiting lists for operations and to see consultants, including more than 200,000 people waiting on access to diagnostic equipment. That is unacceptable.  

“Our fully-costed Budget includes: 600 acute inpatient beds and requisite staff over and above the Government’s targets for next year, 34 additional ICU beds, 298 additional specialist community beds in neuro-rehabilitation, mental health, addiction recovery, and palliative care and €150m capital fund for expanding theatre capacity. 

“We also call for significant investment in eHealth and IT modernisation, a centralised referral system and an integrated waiting list system to put an end to the inefficacies and red-tape that people are living in agony and waiting years for the appropriate treatment. 

“There are solutions to the health crisis and Sinn Féin would deliver those solutions. We can do better.”

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