There is a “horror story a day” coming out of the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, according to Nenagh councillor Seamus Morris. The Sinn Fein representative made the statement when he tabled a motion of no confidence in the HSE West and an area committee meeting, claiming the Mid-West had a “dysfunctional hospital system”.
Cllr Morris told Nenagh / Borrisokane area committee that even those who had “bought into reconfiguration” had now ssen it was not working and had their doubts about its merits.
He further claimed that ambulances were operating as “mobile hospitals”, and claimed the situation would get worse over the coming weeks when Ennis Hospital loses its ICU facility.
He was supported by Cllr Michael O’Meara, who said the health care system in the Mid-West was in a “state of crisis” and a “shambles”.
“Nenagh is being stripped of many services and taking the lab from it will be a disaster,” said the county Mayor. However, he would prefer to have an alternative to offer the HSE West and said the matter should be debated at a full council meeting.
Former Mid-Western Health Board member Cllr Jim Casey said he wouldn’t mind if services were transferred but “Limerick is choked even before any service is transferred”.
The motion will go before the next full county council meeting, with Cllr Ger Darcy saying he was “not too sure about a vote of no confidence, but we should have a debate in the council chamber”.
Meanwhile, Cllr Virginia O’Dowd told Nenagh Town Council that there was a “sense of hopelessness” about the health care situation in the Mid-West after the council was told that the laboratory at Nenagh Hospital is to move to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital.
“The A&E is gone. The ICU is gone. The lab was only thing we had left, and they can’t even leave that with us, Cllr O’Dowd said in response to a motion from Cllr Morris calling for Nenagh Hospital to be given its services back until the Critical Care Block is fully functioning in Limerick.
The Labour councillor urged that the council should act swiftly to get the Oireachtas members on board to save Nenagh lab.
Cllr Morris stated that the lab was moving to Limerick because of staff shortages at the Regional Hospital and the service was one week behind in its work.
“They are taking the heart of Nenagh,” he said. “Take the lab out and there are very few services you can offer the public.”
The Sinn Fein councillor told the meeting that the reconfiguration of hospitals in the Mid-West had collapsed.
“We put our trust in the HSE that they knew what they were doing, but at one stage recently there were 100 people on trolleys, including 40 children,” he said.
Cllr Morris accused the HSE of reacting to the crisis by reopening 10 beds in St John’s Hospital in Limerick, and said they were “sending out texts to see where beds are. There is an uncontrolled movement of patients. People are being refused at Nenagh but then being sent back from Limerick.”
However, he maintained that sending people back to Nenagh was “dangerous” because it was now a Level II hospital.
“Nenagh has lost its ability to look after patients because of the closure of the ICU,” he said.
Cllr Morris said the HSE needed to “take its head out of the sand and engage with us”.
Commenting on a letter from Hiqa in relation to asking the authority to investigate conditions in Limerick, Cllr Morris said he was “beginning to lose faith in Hiqa”, and their response was “trying to throw us off the scent”.
Essentially, Hiqa replied that reconfiguration was a matter for the HSE and not for them.
Cllr Conor Delaney said it was “unfair” of Hiqa to say they could not respond to the call to investigate Limerick.
“That is not acceptable. It is time for Hiqa to do its business or get off the pot,” said the FG councillor.
He called for Nenagh to be reopened fully “for the dignity of the patients”.
Mayor Lalor McGee, Labour, warned there would be a knock-on effect when the lab closes, saying there were fears the hospital could lose day surgery and clinics.
Cllr Tom Moylan, FG, was “perturbed” by appeals earlier this year from the HSE for people not to present at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital because of a shortage of beds.
He claimed Hiqa were “just trying to fob us off” with their response for an investigation in Limerick.
“There are huge health and safety concerns. We asked them to investigate the consequences of reconfiguration, not configuration,” he said.
Cllr Tom Mulqueen said the message should go out that all nine town councillors supported Cllr Morris’s motion.