A hospital has been asking patients to provide their own batteries for medical equipment, it has emerged.
It was confirmed last week that Ennis General Hospital in Co Clare had been telling patients who required to be fitted with mobile blood pressure monitors, to bring two AA batteries. The hospital has since stopped the practice under instruction from the HSE.
Patients are fitted with the units for monitoring purposes usually at the request of their General Practitioner (GP).
The letters which patients have been receiving confirming their appointment time have clearly stated: “Please being 2 AA batteries with you for your monitor.”
In Co Clare, the units are fitted by staff at the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) at Ennis General Hospital. The process of fitting of the unit takes about 10 minutes and the patient returns to the hospital 24 hours later to have it removed again.
The results are then processed and passed on to that patient’s GP for review.
The University of Limerick (UL) Hospitals group has since confirmed that Ennis General Hospital has been instructed to discontinue the cost-saving measure.
It was only recently revealed that Ennis General Hospital was the only facility in the western area that has managed to operate within budget so far this year.
HSE Health Forum West member Cllr Brian Meaney, who had criticised the "batteries not included" policy, said said: "Common sense has prevailed and I'm happy that the HSE has seen that this policy was ill-conceived.
"We all know it's necessary to be vigilant given the financial crisis facing the HSE but we have to ensure the our health service doesn't adopt a 'Ryanair approach' to providing essential health care."
The HSE has confirmed that once it learned of the practice, the hospital was instructed to stop asking patients to supply their own batteries. A spokesman said: “This has been the practice in the past and an instruction to discontinue it was issued by University of Limerick Hospitals when it was brought to their attention.
"Nobody was ever refused a blood pressure monitor if they turned up at Ennis Hospital without a battery," the spokesman added.