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All-time high levels of weekly attendances are being experienced at University Hospital Limerick.

On Wednesday evening, UL Hospitals Group issued an appeal for the public to consider all care options before presenting at the emergency department of UHL.

For the past month, the department has been experiencing high attendances by significant numbers of very sick, non-COVID patients, while UHL continues to manage demand for inpatient beds from people with active COVID-19 infection and those who have been de-listed but continue to recover from the disease.

A spokesperson outlined, “Attendances at our ED have regularly exceeded 200 per day over the past month, compared with average daily attendances of 197 during 2019. During March 2021, attendances of 200 and more at the ED have been the norm, with average week-day presentations running at approximately 211. Between 8am on Monday and 8am this morning (Wednesday), a total of 490 patients attended the ED (249 on Monday, 241 on Tuesday)”.

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82 patients were waiting on trolleys at UHL today, the figures “in a highly infectious pandemic is utterly unacceptable,” said INMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations, Mary Fogarty.

She added, “This level of overcrowding will almost certainly spread the virus and put staff and patients in danger. National government need to urgently intervene in UHL. The hospital has a hundred extra beds more than last year, but it still has the highest numbers of patients without beds in the country”.

An apology was issued by UL Hospitals Group for the wait experienced for a bed by admitted patients. “We are focusing on all aspects of patient flow, including access to diagnostic tests that help ensure patient discharge or transfer in a timely manner. All efforts are being made to ensure that physical distancing is maintained, and wait times are kept to a minimum, and we want to reassure the public that all our patients continue to receive expert medical care while they wait”.

“Not all patients are waiting on trolleys in the Emergency Department. Most are in designated bed spaces (cubicles, bays and beds) in the ED (our COVID-19 emergency admission pathway), and in the non-COVID emergency admission stream of the Acute Medical Assessment Unit and Acute Surgical Assessment Unit. Admitted patients are also waiting in designated surge capacity. However, this in no way minimises the upset and inconvenience that people feel when they experience lengthy wait times for a hospital bed”.

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