IT now appears that the €35 million critical care block at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital will open this summer without the extra beds promised for critically ill patients.
When former minister Mary Harney turned the sod in Dooradoyle in November 2010, it was announced that the new unit would have 12 intensive care, 14 high dependency and 16 coronary care beds. T
he extra beds were to be provided in Dooradoyle to offset the closure of intensive care units in Nenagh and Ennis under the plan to reorganise acute hospital services in the Mid-West.
But the HSE service plan for 2012, announced this week, details that just 24 of the 42 beds promised will be opened this year and these are merely replacing what already exists in Dooradoyle.
While the intensive care units in Ennis and Nenagh have not technically been closed, Clare Fianna Fail TD Timmy Dooley said patients were already being brought by paramedics straight to the ICU in Limerick. “I’m deeply concerned that the document does not make clear that the beds transferring from Ennis and Nenagh are included in the service plan. There were six coronary care beds in Ennis but it now appears that there will be no extra beds in Limerick, contrary to what was promised,” said Deputy Dooley.
Limerick’s Deputy Kieran O’Donnell said it was his understanding that 24 beds would open in the new block, replacing what was already in place in Dooradoyle. “But discussions are ongoing on the transfer of staff within the region that would allow for another eight or nine beds to be opened,” said Deputy O’Donnell.
It was his hope that if these negotiations went well, a total of 32 or 33 beds could be opened in the new unit.
“This critical care unit, along with the recent appointment of Ann Doherty as CEO of the Mid-West Hospital Network are two particularly important measures that progress the delivery of health services here. I am also very supportive of the active engagement of the Department of Health’s special delivery unit in addressing the issues around A&E at Limerick Regional Hospital,” said Deputy O’Donnell.