The CEO of the UL Hospitals Group is reassuring that measures are being taken to ease overcrowding at the region’s main hospital over the coming winter, as additional bed capacity is awaited.
It follows the publication of the HSE’s Capital Plan, which outlines intended expenditure and developments for the coming year.
The HSE has more than 1 billion euro to spend on national health services this year, with earmarked projects including exploring the possibility of a surgical hub at University Hospital Limerick.
Under the plan, a quarter of a million euro will be distributed to the Ennis Elm Medical Centre on the Gort Road, to provide office accommodation & clinical space for use by Primary Care providers.
While, a new theatre block and four new recovery bays at Ennis General Hospital is said to be at the detailed design phase of development.
The plan also aims to identify vacant areas of Ennis Hospital that can be utilised to expand space at the current Local Injury and Medical Assessment Units.
In addition, the health service executive is also currently conducting a strategic analysis to determine the most effective operating hours for the region’s model two facilities.
In a wide-ranging interview on Clare FM’s Morning Focus, the CEO of the UL Hospitals Group has said she believes the HSE is heading in the right direction with plans for Ennis.
Professor Colette Cowan says, however, the ambition remains to establish a new 50 bed block at the site to serve the growing population.
Professor Cowan doesn’t support calls for the re-opening of the Emergency Department at Ennis General, saying safety must remain a priority, but she hopes the MAU will instead by expanded to a 24/7 service.
She says reconfiguration was the right decision, but admits the subsequent failure by the Government to fund the required additional bed capacity had a knock-on effect.
A 96-bed block currently under construction at University Hospital Limerick, which will deliver 48 replacement and 48 new beds, is due to be completed in early 2025.
And Professor Cowan believes a recent commitment from the Health Minister to accelerate delivery of a second 96-bed block, will result in the completion of that development by 2027, providing all new beds.
Professor Colette Cowan admits this won’t alleviate overcrowding over the coming winter, but steps such as expanding working hours into the weekend will be taken to reduce trolley numbers at UHL.
You can listen to the full interview below.