Emergency departments in Nenagh, Ennis and St John's Hospitals have had their A&E departments either fully closed or curtailed for more than a decade
Around 11,000 people are understood to have marched this morning.
The congregation are calling for an immediate reversal of the HSE reconfiguration of the Mid-west hospital system that left the region with just one 24/7 emergency department for a catchment of over 500,000 people.
Emergency departments in Nenagh, Ennis and St John's Hospitals have had their A&E departments either fully closed or curtailed for more than a decade, which has seen UHL inundated, resulting in patients often on trolleys for days before being admitted to a bed.
In early January, UHL was forced to declare a “major internal incident” due to never-before-seen levels of severe overcrowding.
Local politicians from across the political spectrum turned out as families of people who endured “dystopian nightmare” experiences in UHL spoke to the crowd about their loved ones.
The Mid-west Hospital Campaign behind the protest is made up of many families who say the care their loved ones received inadequate treatment in in UHL due to the “horrendous conditions”.
Melanie Cleary spoke to the masses about her daughter Eve’s death on a trolley at the age of 21 in UHL in 2019. Melanie told the crowds that for years, “I blamed myself for not knowing how sick Eve was”.
"Recently though I have made peace with myself because Eve was wheeled out of UHL critically unwell. Seeing now, the recognition from consultants that our three A&Es should never have been closed – our family has never been listened to. The Minister for Health continues to ignore our emails to meet with our family.
"The calls I’ve received from other families over the years who have sought advice over their loved ones – how sad it is that we have been so let down in the Mid-west that we seek help from other victims of UHL.
“When will this be enough for the HSE? When will they e held to account? When another child dies? When another husband or wife or parent dies?
"This is no longer a health crisis, it is a national disaster,” Ms Cleary said during an emotional speech to a rousing ovation from the crowd.
The crowd gathered were encouraged to contact all their local representatives to demand the restoration of the three A&E’s to a 24/7 basis in Limerick but Green Party TD Brian Leddin told Independent.ie at the rally in Arthur’s Quay Park following the march that he fears “we will be in the same position next year that we are in now”.
Mr Leddin described the protest today as “positive” and said “health in the Mid-west has not been taken seriously by the Department of Helath and successive governments”.
Deputy Leddin experienced the mayhem of UHL first hand over the Christmas period as a patient when he endured a “23-hour wait to be seen”.
“This is a really positive mobilisation of people in Limerick and across the Mid-west. We do deserve better healthcare. I experienced it myself at Christmas with a 23-hour wait – this isn’t acceptable in any developed society. We can and must do better but it is going to take time.
"We need a plan to resolve this in the next few years, but I do fear we are going to be in the same position next year as we are now. We need concerted efforts from ministers and government so that we do see this solved in the next two years,” Deputy Leddin said.
UHL has been contacted by Independent.ie for comment.