FOLLOWING talks between the HSE and health service unions over the weekend, the new arrangements for A&E services in the mid-west kick in today.
All late-night emergency patients will now be taken directly to the A&E department at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital.
As a result the A&E departments at Nenagh and Ennis hospitals will from now on work 8am to 8pm.
The Irish Nurses Organisation opposed the introduction of the new system, saying that adequate additional resources had not been put in place at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital and that their members in Nenagh and Ennis would lose out financially due to the change in working hours.
The centralisation of round-the-clock A&E services to Limerick has attracted huge controversy since the HSE first published its proposals, which formed part of the Teamwork/Horwarth Report.
The report recommends that the Mid-Western Regional Hospital becomes the only hospital in the region with a 24-hour accident and emergency department, and that St John’s in Limerick city, Nenagh and Ennis General Hospitals would become local centres of excellence dealing with minor injuries.
Groups opposed to the plan claim the Mid-Western Regional Hospital will be unable to cope with the new influx of patients.
Others claim patient safety will be put at risk, and are highly critical of the downgrading of local services, particularly for those people living in rural Ireland.
Speaking at the recent launch of his European election campaign, Senator Alan Kelly, who is PRO of the Nenagh Hospital Action Group, described the plans as “medically insane.”
The centralisation of A&E services has prompted the HSE to increase security at Nenagh and Ennis hospitals.
However, consultant Dr Paul Burke insisted that the new arrangement would provide better cover for emergency patients throughout the region.
In a statement issued yesterday, the HSE said following talks the new arrangements for the reconfiguration of the Departments of Emergency Medicine in the mid-west will now proceed as planned from today.
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