*UL Hospitals Group Chief Executive, Colette Cowan. 

239 patients have died waiting on trolleys and on chairs at the emergency department of University Hospital Limerick (UHL) since 2019.

Figures provided by UL Hospitals Group Chief Executive, Colette Cowan this week have revealed that over the last five years a total of 239 patients have died on trolleys at UHL.

In 2019, 58 patients died on trolleys at UHL, the figure reduced to 48 in 2020 and further to 41 in 2021 before rising to 51 in 2022 and 41 last year.

Such figures for UHL are 22 percent higher than the 195 who died at University Hospital Galway on trolleys during the same period, 60 percent more than the 150 deaths at University Hospital Galway, more than three times the total at Portincula and more than double the number of trolley deaths at Mayo University Hospital and at Letterkenny University Hospital where the totals were 117 and 108 respectively.

Ms Cowan outlined that the figures for UHL do not include patients who died by the time they arrived in the ED “or critically injured or critically unwell patients who are brought directly to resuscitation following an accident or sudden illness”. The figures do include patients admitted to hospital for whom a bed has been booked but who remained in the ED at the time of their passing.

She explained, “The majority of the above patients (90%) were triaged as the highest category (P1 and P2) indicating a life-threatening illness or patients who are at end-of-life”.

Kilkee’s Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) had tabled the question for Tuesday’s meeting of the Regional Health Forum.

Friends of Ennis Hospital in a statement to The Clare Echo said, This is a shocking indictment of our health service that 239 patients have died on Trolleys in UHL since 2019. That is an average of more than 47 patients per year. Studies have shown that the longer a patient remains on a trolley the higher the risk of death or permanent lifelong health issues”.

So far in 2024, there has been a fourteen percent (2,400) increase in the number of people presenting at UHL’s ED compared with the same time frame for 2023. Numbers on trolleys have increased by 1,600 which represents 49 percent.

“Of the five hospitals with the highest numbers of patients on trolleys, UHL is the only one showing an increase in trolley numbers for 2024. Statistics like these are hugely concerning. In our opinion, this data together with the presentation of additional data at the RHF which states that 25% of patients presenting at the ED in UHL are from Clare supports our call for an upgrade of Ennis to a Model 3 hospital to support the staff at UHL and the patients presenting there.

“Every death of a patient in a hospital is regrettable not all deaths can be prevented but patients at the end of their lives deserve privacy and dignity. There is no privacy or dignity to be found on a trolley,” the statement concluded.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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