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Elective activity cancelled at UHL as hospital battles ‘significant capacity challenge’

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All elective surgeries scheduled to take place at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) have been cancelled for the remainder of the week as the hospital deals with “significant capacity challenges”.

In a bid to de-escalate the site, management at UHL have announced the cancellation of elective activity from Wednesday to Friday which includes elective surgery and certain diagnostic procedures. Outpatient clinics will continue to run.

Affected patients are being contacted directly and will be rescheduled at the earliest opportunity. Elective activity at other hospitals under the management of UL Hospitals Group including Ennis General Hospital is unaffected by this decision.

A high volume of patients have required admission in recent days to UHL. In the 24-hour period up to 8am on September 15th, a total of 238 patients attended the Emergency Department. The average number of daily attendances during 2019 was 195. It follows an unusually busy weekend for the ED.

At 8am on Tuesday morning there were 48 admitted patients in the ED waiting for a bed, of whom 25 were waiting in single rooms or cubicles and 23 were waiting on a corridor.

Injury units in Ennis and Nenagh are open from 8am to 8pm, and St John’s is open from 8am to 7pm. Injury Units are for the treatment of broken bones, dislocations, sprains strains, wounds, scalds and minor burns.

Other measures to relieve pressure include the transfer of appropriate patients to community care settings and maximising access to homecare packages and transition care, working closely with Community Intervention Teams to provide antibiotics and other appropriate care in a patient’s home or care facility and communication with GPs to ensure patients are referred to ED only where appropriate.

Prof Brian Lenehan, Chief Clinical Director, UL Hospitals Group, said: “We are currently experiencing significant capacity challenges at UHL, such that we have unfortunately decided to cancel elective surgery at UHL for the remainder of the week. Such cancellations are provided for in our escalation plan as an option of last resort. We very much regret the impact this will have on patients, many of whom will have been waiting a long time for their procedure and taking all the necessary Covid-19 related precautions in advance of their elective admission. We will reschedule the affected patients as soon as possible.

“Our immediate focus is on providing a safe environment for all patients, particularly in the context of the national public health emergency and ongoing increase in cases in the region and nationally. Our theatres will prioritise inpatients and acute emergency presentations for the remainder of this week and the situation is being kept under continuing review as we look to resume scheduled services next Monday, September 21st.”

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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