Limerick regional ‘raid’ on primary care budgets

21st December 2011

IMPACT members working in the mid west region have voiced concerns that new management structures at Limerick regional hospital, which are set to commence in January, will include a ‘raid’ on primary care budgets in the region. Members in the region said any such move will have a damaging effect on community based services and primary care teams.

The union said that the hospital continues to experience enormous difficulties since the closures of beds at Nenagh and Ennis hospitals. IMPACT official Andy Pike explained, “The A&E is overrun, too many patients are left waiting on trolleys for extended periods, and staff are making enormous efforts to cope, but the pressures are far in excess of what the hospital can endure.

“A new manager is set to take charge in January, and there are enormous challenges ahead, but IMPACT members have come to understand that part of the new regime will involve the appropriation of funds from community (primary care) services. This has happened before, and we know that the net effect will be to reduce meaningful service delivery in the region.

“There is no getting away from the fact that, since the closures at Nenagh and Ennis, Limerick Regional is buckling under the strain. The one element that is preventing that problem getting any worse is the level of community provision in the region. If those budgets are raided to bridge the gap in the hospital’s budgets, we envisage a bad problem getting worse” he said.

Mr Pike said that the only viable solution would be for the HSE to find a way to open beds in Nenagh and Ennis, in order to relieve the ‘unsustainable’ pressures on Limerick Regional, without recourse to damaging existing primary care services.

Mr Pike added, “We know that there are no simple solutions to any of these problems, and we understand that there is no additional funding at hand. We must try, however, to look at whatever limited options are there to solve the problems without creating new pressures on regional services.”