A group gathered outside University Hospital Limerick on Saturday to highlight the failure to reopen A&Es at Nenagh, Ennis and St John’s Hospitals
By Edana Flynn
At the latest UHL protest this afternoon, a notably smaller crowd still maintained a big voice in calling for the reopening of smaller regional A&Es to help manage trolley numbers at UHL.
More than 25 people gathered outside University Hospital Limerick this afternoon as part of a series of protests against failures to reduce wait times and take the pressure off staff in the Midwest’s major hospital.
Protest organiser Mike Daly said that his message has remained unchanged since the last protest in January. Amid chants from the crowd and supportive beeps from passing drivers, Mr Daly said, “Since the last march when 11,000 people came to the streets, nothing has changed at UHL”.
“There are still massive waiting times and an extraordinary amount of people attending and on trolleys.”
Mr Daly expressed his concern that deaths could result from these waiting times remaining unchanged, and believes that should “another death” occur; the Minister for Health “should be held criminally negligent.”
“Things must change now, if there is one more death that points to waiting times as being responsible, then there should be anarchy due to the absence of public safety and non-recognition of the danger posed by excessive waiting times from the Minister for Health’s office or the HSE,” he continued.
“It is widely accepted that excessive waiting times can cause deaths. This is not acceptable.”
Those in attendance also called for the modernisation of hospital resources and an increased number of medical staff to help reduce waiting times for beds at UHL.
Others in attendance said they were there to advocate for both staff and patients who are negatively impacted by overcrowding, while others came in support of families who had lost loved ones due to excessive waiting times in UHL.
One attendee said that while she had not lost someone personally, she did not believe it was right not to speak up and demand change on behalf of all those affected by the conditions at UHL, in an effort to prevent further loss of life.
Concluding the protest, organiser Mr Daly said, “One A&E in the whole region of the Midwest is unsustainable, so to the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, do what is needed now before another death occurs because of the waiting times at UHL Hospital Limerick.
“Otherwise, you may find that you or the HSE are criminally negligent, and will be held accountable.”