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A NEW RECORD for average seven day attendances at the emergency department of University Hospital Limerick (UHL) has been set.

Over the seven-day period to Wednesday, August 31st, there was an average 214 attendances every day at the Emergency Department. This exceeds the 210 average daily attendances during 2021, which was busiest year on record.

UHL’s Emergency Department has experienced “significant demand” throughout the summer, Chief Operations Officer, UL Hospitals Group Noreen Spillane outlined in correspondence to national and local politicians.

She said they are working with the HSE National Support Team on patient flow and decongesting the UHL site. “Following an initial four-week programme of work with the Performance Management and Improvement Unit that commenced in early July, we continue to engage with the support team, working jointly with HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare to respond to current pressures faced at UHL”.

According to Ms Spillane, the support team’s role “was to drive a programme of work to respond to the unprecedented levels of demand for services in the Mid-West Region and to support and oversee the implementation of rapid improvements. The team was also tasked to identify was what required locally, regionally and nationally to sustain improvements in operational and clinical effectiveness. Under the Five Fundamentals of Unscheduled Care Framework, one of the areas of focus was capacity and capability.

“A renewed focus on hospital avoidance, discharge planning, patients with long stays in hospital etc has seen some progress in recent weeks, including the removal of ward trolleys and an overall reduction in admitted patients waiting on trolleys. We are committed to sustaining this focus on process improvement to help de-escalate the UHL site. It remains essential, however, that the widely acknowledged deficits in bed capacity and increasing resources to meet growing demand in our hospital group are also addressed as a priority”.

Staffing issues experienced across UL Hospitals Group in recent weeks which resulted in the temporary closure of injury units in Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s were described as “regrettable”. She added, “These staffing issues have been related in the main to NCHD resources post the annual changeover and to Covid leave. Plans are at an advanced stage to stabilise medical staffing for these important services and we expect that these temporary closures will be kept to a minimum going forward”.

Deloitte’s report on patient flow at UHL is being finalised and is due to be published in the coming weeks. Briefings will be held with public representatives to discuss the findings of the analysis.

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