The “Friends of Ennis General Hospital”, a Facebook group, has organised a public protest at 3pm in O’Connell Street, Ennis, for this coming Sunday.

Established in 2010, the group aims to support those working in Ennis Hospital and provide small scale fundraising similar to the “Friends of Nenagh Hospital” Facebook page.

The Ennis page has been used to highlight changes to hospital facilities and to draw attention to the issue of Ennis Hospital prior to elections.

According to the group, in the six years since its foundation, there have been many changes to the facilities and services provided at Ennis General Hospital.

These include:-
° Downgrading A&E to an 8am-8pm service prior to replacement by a Local Injuries Unit (now a Minor Injuries Unit) while the promised a centre of excellence at Limerick has yet to materialise.
° Colonoscopy services were allocated to Ennis, coinciding with the opening of the hospital extension, while at the same time the Intensive Care Unit was closed and diagnostics equipment was removed.

A spokesperson for the group claims that while theatres in Ennis Hospital remain fully equipped but under-utilised, health services in the Midwest region have reached a crisis point.

Meanwhile at University Hospital Limerick there are now more patients waiting on trollies than in any other hospital in the country.

The aim of Sunday’s protest is not to call for a permanent restoration of Accident and Emergency services in Ennis, but the re-opening of the Emergency Department on a temporary basis until the centre of Excellence in Limerick opens, however long that might take.

The Friends of Ennis Hospital says it accepts that Ennis General does not have the facilities to treat patients with serious cardiac or neurological issues and recommends these patients could be stabilised in Ennis and transferred directly to the appropriate ward in UHL for treatment, thus bypassing the over-stretched ED in UHL.

“Realistically,” they say, “Ennis General lies idle for the main part while the patients it was meant to serve are subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by being forced to attend an ED which is neither fit for purpose nor safe from a health perspective given the level of overcrowding”.

Organisers of Sunday’s event are hoping for a good attendance from the general public so bring to the attention of Minister Simon Coventry the plight of sick and vulnerable people in Clare.