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Mid-West Hospital Campaign – 11,000 Protesters March On Limerick Streets Today.

“Front-line workers are working under immense pressure, under immense strain and they are extremely courageous. The least we can do is give them the tools, the training and the environments in which they can do that work at the safest possible level”.

Above quote from the lips of Dr Mike Ryan, latter current Executive Director Health Emergencies Programme, World Health Organization (WHO).

For years, University Hospital Limerick has been the most overcrowded hospital in our Irish Republic, with a record of 18,028 patients waiting on trolleys and on trolleys in wards, during 2022, according to reliable figures provided by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), based on their 5-day trolley and ward count.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes – Who shall keep the keepers themselves?

As our elected Tipperary politicians decorate their social media pages; each attempting to associate themselves with greatness, based on the recent personal hard work and well deserved successes of other individuals; e.g. Winners of American Golden Globe Awards, GAA match parish triumphs & Irish BT Young Scientist & Technology award winners; University Hospital Limerick (UHL) and Nenagh Hospital, both medical facilities serving North Tipperary, have during their tenure as TD’s, been left unrepresented; disrespected; ignored and totally neglected.

One would have believed that same of our politicians, if fully awake, would have seen the writing on the wall, when on April 21st last 2022, all records were broken when 126 patients waited on trolleys; the highest ever daily figure since 2006.

In the last 14 days we have listened and read press releases from our politicians, (written by those with lesser authority than themselves), criticizing HSE officials and staff with regards over-crowding conditions at our hospitals.

Do you hear the people sing?

“Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again!”

[Extract from song written by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, “Do you hear the people sing?” – Les Miserables]

Meanwhile, a protest held in Limerick city today, organised by the Mid-West Hospital Campaign, together with Friends of Ennis Hospital and groups representing Nenagh Hospital, saw some 11,000 people take to the streets of the city.

Two separate, one minute silences, were observed during the protest; one for to remember the 126 people who were left waiting on trolleys last April, same the highest daily figure ever recorded at the UHL facility; the second in memory of a Co. Clare teenager, Ms Aoife Johnston, who sadly died from meningitis last month at UHL, after allegedly spending a significant period of time on a hospital trolley.

Protesters carried pictures of their loved ones today, latter who were left frightened and nervous due extreme overcrowded conditions, and alas some others who passed away at the medical facility.

Protesters stated they were exceedingly angry and fearful that this overcrowding has been allowed to continue and are seeking a reversal of the decision taken in 2009, under a Fianna Fáil government, to downgrade the 24-hour services at Nenagh Hospital, Co. Tipperary; Ennis Hospital Co. Clare, and St John’s Hospital, Co. Limerick.

Similar smaller protests took place elsewhere around the country today, with protesters sending a similar message to both the Government and the Health Service Executive, stating that they were no longer going to tolerate a health system which has, for far too long, been ignored and mismanaged.


Flu Vaccine Walk-in Clinics For Children Aged 2-17

All children aged 2 and17 can get free flu vaccine. Same remains still available in Ireland for children aged 2-17 and is given as a spray up the nose, with no need for an injection. It remains a safe, easy and pain free way to help protect children against flu this winter.

The flu vaccine will also help to reduce the spread of flu to others such as siblings, parents, teachers at high risk of flu complications (e.g. pregnant or long-term health conditions) and grandparents.

Flu Vaccination Clinics.

A number of community vaccination centres across the country are now offering ‘children’s walk-in flu vaccination clinics’ with no appointments necessary and with the vaccine free of charge. The full schedule of clinics, to date, is available HERE.

Alas, for reasons best known to the HSE, no community vaccination centre has been allocated to Co. Tipperary and indeed as yet only 13 counties within the Republic’s 26 counties, are benefitting from the free service.
However, on further investigation we find one pharmacy, namely Boots Pharmacy, No.26 – No.29 Thurles Shopping Centre, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, offering the service. See HSE website HERE. (Pharmacy Contact Tel. Number 0504 24594.)

The HSE have set up these additional walk-in flu vaccination clinics in the afore mentioned age group,;in response to the rising numbers of flu cases in children as well as the significant number of children who have been hospitalised by the virus this winter; together with very low vaccination rates.
The nasal spray flu vaccine is only available until Monday, January 23rd and after this date, we are informed by the HSE, that only children with medical conditions, which put them at risk of serious illness from flu, will be able to get a flu vaccine, given as an injection.

Flu can be serious when contracted by children

Children are twice as likely to catch flu as adults. While most children who get the flu will have mild symptoms, some children can get complications, such as pneumonia or bronchitis and may need to go to hospital. Children, especially younger children, are also more likely than adults to contract severe complications
Flu can cause serious illness in children, and children with chronic health conditions are most at risk of severe complications of flu.
Children also carry the flu virus in their system, much longer than adults and they can spread the virus easily to other children, like those in day-care centres and schools, and to older and vulnerable people around them. The flu vaccine therefore offers children the best protection against the virus.

It therefore follows, that the HSE are encouraging parents to avail of this opportunity to vaccinate their children against flu, as same continues to spread and is likely to continue circulating within communities further, for a number of weeks.

You can find out more about the free nasal flu vaccine for children HERE.


Major Surge In RSV Cases Reported In Midwest Region Which Includes North Co. Tipperary.

A new surge in cases of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is being reported within the Mid-West health region of Ireland, latter which covers counties North Tipperary, Clare, and Limerick.

Concerns are being expressed that this will now place even further pressure on University Hospital Limerick (UHL), which continues to remain the most overcrowded emergency medical facility within the Irish State.

A specialist in Public Health Medicine, Dr Marie Casey; latter currently working on COVID-19 health protection response at regional level, has stated; “What’s unique about this year is that we’re having all these seasons of these different infections at the same time, so normally there will be different patterns and there will be a bit of staggering. But what we’re seeing is that there are high numbers of all the different types of infection at the same time, and that obviously is putting increased burden on our region.”

Dr Casey said that RSV is mostly affecting children, with many of them older than would normally be seen, and there is a drift into the older population as well, which she confirmed was different from previous years.

Go back to basics.

Dr Casey is urging people to go back to basics again and not to socialisego to work or school when sickcontinue hand hygiene, and wear face masks, particularly if feeling unwell.

Yesterday, Monday, January 9th, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said there were 489 patients on trolleys waiting for admission to a hospital bed, with University Hospital Limerick the worst affected with 48 patients waiting.

Today, Tuesday, January 10th, there are 573 patients with Covid-19 in our Republics hospitals according to the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Over the past 14 days, 309 cases of Covid-19 were reported in Co. Tipperary, however, these are only the reported cases and the figure is most likely to be much higher.


Ambulances In Mid-West Region To Avoid UHL In Treating Non-Urgent Patients.

Ambulances operating in the mid-west region, which includes and provides medical services in North Tipperary, are to begin transporting non-urgent 112/999 patients to Ennis General Hospital as and from Monday next, as part of agreed new protocols targeting the easing of pressure on the Emergency Department at University Hospital Limerick (UHL).
Same pressures are caused by chronic overcrowding, due to the massive surge in patients experiencing respiratory infections, including Covid-19, Flu and Respiratory Syncytial Virus infection (RSV).

So with a doctor shortage in Tipperary and with many doctors failing to answer their telephones, due to work pressure; who decides who is non-urgent?
For example, are mild strokes urgent or non-urgent? If you have a silent stroke, you probably won’t know it unless you happen to have a brain scan and the damage shows up.
We are told an electrocardiogram (ECG) is an important test in any suspected mild heart attacks and should be done within 10 minutes of being admitted to hospital.

Death By Geography.

Back in October 2016 we previously raised this issue.
The distance from Thurles to Ennis is 116.3 km, with a normal travelling time of 1 hr-24 min via R498 and M7. Currently for medical help, the distance from Thurles to the UHL medical facility in Limerick is 78.1 km, with normal travelling time 1 hr-6 min also via R498 and M7, or a difference of 38.2 km. This new agreed regulation now adds a further 18 minutes to those victims suffering heart attacks or strokes, where timing is all important so that the person suffering can be treated quickly.

Since 2009, the Model 4 UHL facility has provided the only 24-hour Emergency Department service for a population over 400,000, taking into account newly arrived refugees, after A&E services were closed, under a Fianna Fáil government, in Ennis and Nenagh and in St John’s Hospital Limerick.

The UL Hospitals Group, which operates the mid-west hospitals, declared a major incident at the UHL ED on last Monday, January 2nd, when management said record levels of patients attending the department could no longer be sustained.

The silence within our rural Thurles community continues. Why?


Sick Children Should Be Kept At Home For 48 Hours After Symptoms Resolved.

The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Breda Smyth, is urging parents to continue to be mindful of others when their children are sick and to keep them home from school and childcare facilities, if they are displaying new symptoms of illness.

The flu, COVID-19 and RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus) is continuing to spread, with these three respiratory viruses, accounting for more than 1,200 hospitalisations last week.

Professor Smyth also strongly advised anyone with any new flu-like symptoms, to stay at home to avoid spreading infection to other potentially more vulnerable people.

Parents were also reminded by Professor Smyth that children should be kept at home for at least 48 hours after their symptoms have fully or substantially resolved.

For Further information, please do visit HERE.