THE pilot patient transfer programme put in place this week in Limerick and Clare should be expanded to Bantry General Hospital (BGH), whose local injury unit was closed this week due to staffing shortages, according to local TDs.
Under protocols being piloted at Clare’s Ennis Hospital, ambulances are now able to bring stable patients straight to the medical assessment unit (MAU) at Ennis Hospital, instead of taking them directly to University Hospital Limerick.
The one-day closure last Monday of BGH’s Local Injury Unit due to lack of staff was described as ‘madness,’ and something that shook the public’s confidence in the government’s commitment to the hospital.
Independent TD Michael Collins said the closure resulted in people needing treatment for minor injuries, fractures, suturing of wounds minor burns etc having to travel to CUH, and ‘join the long queue in the already overwhelmed emergency department there.’
The TD added that the injury unit in Bantry should be carrying out more procedures and he called for the pilot patient transfer programme put in place this week in Limerick and Clare to be expanded to BGH.
Government TD Christopher O’Sullivan said the one-day closure was ‘utter madness.’
He said ‘there can be no more excuses surrounding Bantry hospital’s staffing shortage.’ He also said the facility was currently under-used.
Deputy O’Sullivan said the situation at Bantry was at the stage where ‘we need to be radical in our approach.’
‘With that, there’s an opportunity to revisit how we utilise Bantry.
‘For example, Bantry’s medical assessment unit is very limited in terms of cases that can present there. If its capacity were increased, it could help divert less urgent care from CUH. We’re currently under-utilising Bantry for the area it’s meant to cover. With the hunt on for a new chief of the South/South West Hospital Group, the opportunity is there to double down on Bantry and strengthen its role in the region.’
Social Democrat TD Holly Cairns said that combined with the uncertainty around beds in the mental health unit on the site, the closure had shaken people’s confidence in the government’s commitment to Bantry Hospital.