The last direct connection between Clare GPs and Ennis General Hospital looks set to be severed in the weeks ahead – in a move which will see further responsibility and power moved from Ennis to Limerick.
The Clare People understands the the UL Hospital Group is to introduce a new ‘Bed Bureau’ from October three of which will be based in Limerick. All Clare GPs must interact with this new bureau instead of dealing directly with Ennis General Hospital. According to Clare TD and Kilmaley GP, Michael Harty (IND), the change amounts to a further downgrading of services in Ennis General Hospital. Deputy Harty also claims that the move was introduced without consultation with local GPs or staff at the Ennis hospital.
The Medical Directorate of the hospital group is understood to only have informed the Medical Assessment Unit in Ennis last week – when it asked them to provide cover for the new Bed Bureau on weekends.
“If I needed to have a patient treated in Ennis, up to now I could ring the Medical Assessment Unit, and have a chat with the nurses and doctors and we could decide if the patient was appropriate for Ennis. This cuts the last direct contact that GPs have with their local hospital,” said Dr Harty.
“Now we are going to have to ring this Bed Bureau in Limerick and we won’t have any control of where the patient goes. They [the UL Hospital Group] feel that this will reduce the number of people coming to A&E in Limerick but the opposite it true.
“The first that Ennis Hospital knew of this is when they got an email last Wednesday asking them, ironically, if they would look after this new Bed Bureau on Saturdays and Sundays. This is taking away their autonomy and this is a huge blow to staff [in Ennis]. They have been working hard to build this service in recent years.
“We don’t know where this change is coming from. Nobody has been in contact with the local GP’s and nobody has been in contact with the Medical Assessment Unit in Ennis.
“Part of the thinking here is that they don’t want Ennis to have control over their beds, they want all the control in Limerick.”
The Clare People contacted the UL Hospital Group in relation to the issue but no response was received at the time of going to press.

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