PARENTS with children under five years of age, who have sustained injuries or are seriously ill, must go directly to the Accident and Emergency Unit at the University Hospital Limerick, by-passing the Local Injuries Unit at Ennis Hospital.
Clare people with “conditions due to medical illness”, serious head injury, abdominal pains, gynaecological problems, neck and back pain, injuries due to self harm and major injuries must also go direct to Limerick as the Local Emergency Centre in Ennis became a Local Injuries Unit yesterday (Monday).
As part of the reorganisation of health services a new 10-hour, five-day week, Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) was also opened yesterday at Ennis Hospital.
The MAU will be open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday.
The unit will see patients who are referred by their GPs with certain symptoms that may require hospital admission such as chest infections and chronic diseases including asthma and diabetes.
Shannondoc and GPs can also admit medical patients directly to the hospital outside the opening times of the MAU, following discussion with the medical and nursing staff.
In announcing the change of services at the County Clare hospital, the HSE said, “the hospital will continue to provide consultant delivered selected acute medicine.
“It is being done as part of an ongoing programme to improve patient safety and efficiency. The Small Hospitals Framework published in May 2013 sets out a very clear role for hospitals such as Ennis. Ennis hospital has a pivotal role in treating patients from Clare.”
The new look Ennis hospital is now not a million miles away from what the Hanley Report proposed in 2003. That report was campaigned against by the Ennis General Hospital Development Group for years and was the subject of differing election promises in the last decade.
In April 2009 the then Mid Western Regional Hospital Ennis lost its 24-hour Accident and Emergency Department, which was replaced with a 12-hour local emergency centre.
In May of this year the HSE published The Small Hospital Frameworks, which outlined yesterday’s changes and included Ennis in the University Limerick Hospital group.
The new Local Injury Unit will be open during the same hours as the emergency centre it is replacing – from 8am to 8pm seven days a week.
It will treat adult patients and children aged over five with minor injuries such as suspected broken bones, sprains and strains, facial injuries, minor scalds and burns. The unit is led by a consultant in emergency medicine and staffed by registrars, nurses, radiographers, pharmacists, multi-task attendants and clerical staff. People can self refer to the Local Injury Unit or be referred by their GP/Shannondoc.
Anyone requiring treatment outside of the opening hours should attend the Emergency Department in either University Hospital Limerick or Galway Hospital; or visit Shannondoc.
Those with minor injuries may also wait to attend the Local Injury Unit the following morning.

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Claire Gallagher is a multi-award winning journalist with more than 15 years experience in media. The Galwegan began her career in radio working in news and current affairs. Having spent a year on the dark side – political PR and Spin – she returned to journalism and has since then worked mainly in print – regional and national – while continuing to work with the broadcast media. She has been with the Clare People since its foundation in 2005. She was awarded “Young Irish Medical Journalist of the Year” in June 2008 while working with the paper. Twitter @galocon Facebook ClaireGallagherClarePeople

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