One year on and the downgrading of the Ennis General Hospital A&E service has had a profound effect on the confidence
Clare people have in their hospital. The decision by the HSE twelve months ago under the direction of the Minister for Health, Mary Harney, has allowed the balance of healthcare provision swing towards the private sector.
There is much evidence that many Clare people who are lucky enough to have medical insurance are now choosing the Galway
Clinic as their hospital of choice even for acute services. This is an appalling indictment of the failure of this government to provide basic healthcare for its citizens.

The administrators at the HSE have stripped Ennis General Hospital of services and moved us along the road to a commercially based healthcare provision in Ireland, where what will really count is the size of your wallet.

In years to come, the dismantling of our public health care system will be seen as a huge mistake. It has taken the US
almost a century to get its universal healthcare right, and here in Ireland we are trading our services in favour of a two-tiered system.

There is a growing crisis presently in attracting the best of junior doctors to our regional hospitals such as Ennis. Many of these doctors are emigrating, as they are not challenged enough in stripped down facilities, and over burdened in so called centres of excellence.

The HSE remains admin heavy – how could the old health board system have been reconfigured without any staff changes?
Meanwhile, key frontline staff are run off their feet, demoralised due to lack of promotion opportunities and working in greatly diminished facilities such as Ennis General.

Many Clare patients have been diverted to the Mid-West Regional Hospital Limerick in recent months, where staffing
embargoes and increased patient numbers are creating huge difficulties. I have witnessed first hand the chaos in our so called centres of excellence where people are stripped of all dignity and placed on trolleys and chairs for hours and days. No new facilities or extra patient space has been provided at Limerick Regional in order to deal with the additional work load despite the promises. It’s even difficult to park a car down there for goodness sake.

At Ennis Hospital, I have been outraged at the ongoing situation with regards CT Scanning. There has be a stream of
conflicting information coming from the HSE with regards this much-needed facility. Last January we were told that staff recruitment difficulties were resolved and that operations would be up and running. Now we learn that services have been suspended again following the departure of a temporary radiologist. The latest news that this vital service which the people of Clare fund raised for will not be operational for up to six further months highlights the extent to which the health system is clearly not working in County Clare.

One year on and the confidence in the hospital and the ability of the HSE to provide a modern, efficient health service,
is at an all time low. The only solution at this juncture is a change of government, and an overhaul of the healthcare system. Fine Gael has such as plan called FairCare which will fix our broken health care system. Only then will we be able to adopt 21st century healthcare, where the patient comes first and not cost savings, and where all the people of this state can have confidence in their health care system.