LIMERICK will get its long-awaited new emergency department in 2015, the HSE has confirmed this week.
Work on the A&E unit at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, which it is understood will take up the ground floor of the newly-built critical care block, is due to start next month.
Coronary patients have in recent weeks been among the first to move into the €35 million block. When she turned the sod on the project in 2010, former Minister for Health Mary Harney pledged that a new emergency department would be provided there.
Limerick is one of the top three busiest emergency departments in the country and, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, one of the most persistently overcrowded. It has faced added pressure in recent years through the closure at night of emergency departments at St John’s, Ennis and Nenagh and protocols requiring paramedics to bypass the smaller hospitals in major trauma cases.
“Work on a new state of the art emergency department will start in next month. It will be built and equipped over a two-year period and will include a dedicated paediatric area,” the HSE said in response to a query from the Limerick Leader.
The HSE was responding to a complaint submitted to the Ombudsman by Cappamore man Paul Moroney, who waited for eight hours for treatment for a deep cut to his hand on Sunday night before he left without having been seen.
“I have been in many hospitals in the world including densely-populated London and poverty-stricken Bolivia and each time I have received some level of care,” Mr Moroney said, describing his treatment - or lack of it - at the Regional as “disgraceful”.
The HSE issued an apology for the “unacceptable standard of service” received by Mr Moroney and promised to discuss the outcome of a “thorough investigation” with him.
“We have also outlined to Mr Moroney that we are currently finalising a reorganisation of the way acute medical services are delivered across the region. When this is done there will be a full review of the operation of the emergency department and Mr Moroney’s complaint will be used to inform this in order to ensure a better quality of service.”
Mary Fogarty, organiser with the INMO in Limerick, said nurses have not been given full details on the new emergency department but looked forward to discussing it with management at a meeting next month.
“It would be superb for patients, for nurses and for all hospital staff because what they have to put up with at the moment is simply not up to standard,” Ms Fogarty said.