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*CEO of UL Hospitals Group, Colette Cowan. 

MANAGEMENT’S POSITION AT UNVERSITY HOSPITAL LIMERICK (UHL) is no longer tenable, TDs in the Mid-West have said.

A report from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has raised serious red flags surrounding overcrowding at UHL. It details how the hospital is failing to comply with national standards governing patient dignity, patient care and staffing levels. In addition, UHL is only partially compliant with guidelines for the effective management of services.

Inspectors that compiled the report were not assured the hospital had adequate measures in place to address overcrowding, ineffective patient flow; insufficient nurse staffing levels and prolonged ED wait times.

Clare TD, Michael McNamara (IND) remarked of the report, “It’s not something that gives me pleasure to say but it is a damning indictment of management, it is difficult to see how their position is tenable at the moment”.

Deputy McNamara was critical of the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin (FF) for failing to clearly outline what the terms of reference were for the expert group reviewing UHL “I raised it again in the Dáil and he tried to brush it off as a HSE matter, this is a Governmental matter, it is a failure of Government, there is a lot of claptrap about the celebration of independence and a Republic, one of the most basic principles of a Republic is that people are equal, we have a right to an equal healthcare system in the Mid-West”.

He added, “I’m calling for a management system that is capable of managing existing resources and pointing out where the resources are inadequate, we don’t have either in the Mid-West unfortunately, it is very clear from the report”.

“We need the Taoiseach, he might not be from Limerick, he might not care about Limerick, I actually think he does care about Limerick, we need a Junior Minister in his Department who is directly answerable to him so he is directly answerable to the people of the Mid-West for the provision of a health system. He is a politician with considerable experience in healthcare, he was a Minister for Health, he set up the HSE, he knows his way around the healthcare system, he needs to take ownership of this and it needs to be delivered because it is not acceptable that you can’t expect to receive a different level of healthcare depending on where you live,” the Scariff native concluded.

Limerick TD, Maurice Quinlivan admitted, “I’ve lost all confidence in the management at the hospital and there needs to be a complete change at management level”. He said, “I’ve zero confidence that the HSE will act on this report, so the Minister needs to act to make sure that they do and if that means that people need to be changed or moved then that has to be done”.

Junior Minister, Patrick O’Donovan (FG) acknowledged that the report from HIQA was “shocking but not surprising”. He believed UHL has been playing catch-up since it was reconfigured with a rise in staff from 2,800 to just under 3,600, “We have been running to stand still and now in some cases we are running and going backwards”.

No quick fix will tackle the problems, Cllr Mary Howard (FG) said. “There is no quick fix solution to any of this, they talk about the nursing rota, that needs to be addressed, the bed management needs to be addressed, what’s going through the emergency department, people needn’t be going through there, bigger isn’t always better, we’ve a great hospital in Ennis, St John’s and Nenagh also do injury units, we need to extend that remit that they’ve got to get bums off seats inside in the emergency department and let real emergencies go in there and not people waiting on scans, x rays or angiograms, it is appalling but we can only hope this will be a catalytic moment, this HIQA report”.

Changing management may not bring about a quick resolution, Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) observed. “What will a new set of management do and how long will they take to get up to speed and is the situation so bad feeding into it that it doesn’t matter if we’ve the best managers in the world it will take them two to three years to get on top of it”.

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