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Elective surgeries cancelled as UHL deals with record overcrowding

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A number of elective surgeries at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) have been cancelled with increased ward rounds conducted to transfer and discharge patients as staff attempt to cope with record overcrowding.

85 people were waiting for admission at UHL today (Monday) which is the worst figure on record for any Irish hospital. In the 24 hours prior to 8am on Monday morning, a total of 183 patients attended the emergency department (ED) at UHL which a spokesperson noted was “significantly above the norm for a Sunday”.

“We regret that any patient has to wait on a trolley for admission. This is not the level of service we wish to provide but we want to reassure the public that every effort is made to move patients to a bed as soon as possible. The ED at UHL is one of the busiest in the country, and the unusually high volume of patients has prompted hospital management to appeal to the public to use the ED only for emergencies only. All surge capacity identified under the hospital’s escalation plan is currently being used for admitted patients,” a spokesperson told The Clare Echo.

Measures being taken to relieve pressure on the ED as part of the escalation policy include the transfer of suitable patients to other hospitals, 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.

Additional ward rounds are taking place at UHL to identify patients for discharge or transfer and elective surgery has been reduced. As of 2pm on Monday, 37 admitted patients were waiting in the ED.

As part of the Winter Action Plan, additional measures will be put in place for the Mid West according to a spokesperson, these will be jointly implemented by UL Hospitals Group and HSE MidWest Community Healthcare. “Despite these measures, inpatient bed capacity at UHL remains a challenge, and in the longer term, work on the €19.5m 60-bed block is well underway, and these beds are expected to be operational in Q4 2020. In addition, progression of the 96-bed block remains a major priority for UL Hospitals Group management.

“We urge the public to keep the ED for emergencies only; a place where priority is given to the seriously injured and ill and those whose lives may be at risk. Anyone else will likely face a very long wait, and should first consider all the care options available to them in them in their own communities, their family doctors, out-of-hours GP services, or ask their local pharmacies for advice”.

Local Injury Units (LIUs) at Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals (8am-8pm daily), and St John’s Hospital (8am-6pm, Monday to Friday) are open for treatment of broken bones, dislocations, sprains, strains, wounds, scalds and minor burns, without the lengthy wait that can be expected in the ED during busy periods.

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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