For the first time in several years, Ennis General Hospital can face the future with certainty and security.

This follows the announcement that Ennis General Hospital will be organised into a new Hospital Group, allowing the hospital greater autonomy and the ability to play to its strengths in the years ahead.

What has been announced this week is the biggest reorganisation of Irish hospitals in the history of the State. The reason we are doing this is to fix our healthcare system and to help make our hospitals safer, reduce waiting lists and cut the number of trolleys in A&E.

In order to do this all public hospitals, including Ennis General Hospital, will be organised into new Hospital Groups, which will have much greater freedom to run themselves. Ireland has some of the best healthcare workers in the world.

We know that Ennis General has been achieving significant results in recent months. The number of people on trolleys in Ennis has fallen by 46% since the Government came into office, despite significant budget cuts and large increases in demand. By the end of 2012 waiting lists over 9 months for in-patients had been eliminated in Ennis General Hospital. By the end of this year no one should be waiting for treatment for more than 8 months.

What the Hospitals Group reorganisation means in effect is that now, more patients will be treated in Ennis. The hospital will do more work in a large number of areas including day surgery, diagnostics, rehabilitation and chronic disease management.

A Medical Assessment Unit is being developed and will support the work of the Local Injuries Unit. A new fifty bed ward block has been open which provides state of the art accommodation with every room en-suite to combat hospital acquired infections. Endoscopy services and day surgery have been expanded and enhanced. These investment are vital and will ensures Ennis General Hospital has a bright future. It must also be noted that Ennis General Hospital is now one of the designated colorectal screening sites.

The Government continues to make significant investments in community care facilities, such a the Clarecastle Daycare Centre and the Carrigoran Daycare Centre, thus alleviating pressures on our local hospitals and clinics, and allowing persons to be treated in their local areas with dignity.

These reforms send out a clear signal that this Government is committed to the future of Ennis General Hospital. I want to pay tribute to the staff and management at the hospital who have adapted to the reorganisation of healthcare services with professionalism and who continue to deliver the highest level of care for the patient. Ennis General Hospital is a vital part of healthcare provision in the Mid-West and for the first time in years, its role is being copper-fastened and given certainty.