Tuesday, 14 December 2010
Timmy Dooley (Clare, Fianna Fail)
I also wish to thank the Ceann Comhairle for facilitating the Clare Deputies in what is an important issue for us. I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate tonight. Concern has been raised with me and other public representatives in the past number of days regarding the possible downgrading of cardiac services at Ennis General Hospital. As the Minister of State here tonight is aware, Ennis General Hospital has seen significant change in services provided in recent years. It has been always based on patient safety and the quality assured service that should be delivered at any particular time. The core of this whole reconfiguration process has been the necessity to ensure the service is quality assured and is in the best interests of the patient.
The transfer of acute surgery to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick was brought about by a number of misdiagnosed cases at Ennis that had tragic outcomes for patient safety and the quality of the service. All of us have recognised the importance of that. However, as part of that reconfiguration process, it had been always recognised that many services could be delivered at Ennis General Hospital in the best interests of patients and in a safe environment. In particular, it was recognised that Ennis would play an important role in the delivery of medical services, and that included some acute services. In my view, cardiology is one such medical service that can and should remain at Ennis. Nobody has put forward to me any case for moving the service.
I accept that interventional cardiology is by necessity delivered at a hospital such as the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick, where CAT labs and other enhanced technologies are available to provide that service. However, I see no reason the current service in Ennis should be in any way diminished or removed. It does not make sense from a cost point of view, from a patient safety point of view, or from any other point of view.
The Minister for Health and Children met with me and the Minister for Defence this evening. She gave us a fair hearing. She allowed us to put forward a very strong case for the retention of the service, and she recognised the necessity to continue to build on the services that are delivered in Ennis, so that the reconfiguration process can continue. It will not be possible for Limerick to manage the entire services of the region. It is just not physically possible to do it, and it is important that services are maintained in both Ennis and Nenagh, and enhanced rather than reduced. I look forward to what the Minister has to say this evening, given that she has had the opportunity to hear the three Clare Deputies this evening, and more particularly, given that she had a face to face meeting with the Minister for Defence and myself where we put forward the case on behalf of the people we all represent.