CAPACITY for the region’s main hospital to deal with a winter surge is proving to be a major fear.
On Monday, 109 patients were on trolleys in the emergency department of University Hospital Limerick (UHL), according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation. The figure is double the number that there was in the emergency department on the same day in 2021 or 2022.
UL Hospitals Group disputed the figure. They said the HSE’s alternative Trolley GAR database recorded a total of 75 patients on Monday. This is comprised of 25 patients in the Emergency Department, 18 in the Acute Medical Unit and 32 on trolleys in inpatient wards, a spokesperson said while acknowledging that the level of overcrowding is far in excess of where they want it to be and that an escalation plan is in place to maximise patient flow and create additional capacity.
Noeleen Moran of the Mid-West Hospital Campaign stated “at this moment, the campaign is deeply concerned about the situation that may arise at UHL ED during the forthcoming Winter, Christmas and New Year period. We call on the HSE and the UL Hospitals Group to immediately outline the measures being taken to avoid what may well be an inevitable and uncontrollable meltdown of emergency healthcare in the Mid-West during that period”.
She claimed that of the 109 figure that the patients had been triaged and deemed necessary to receive further treatment. “This can be overlooked particularly when attempts are made to downplay the figures. Yet again the people of the Mid-West are bearing the brunt of the lack of support from Government for additional Emergency Department services in our region. We have been failed by our elected or appointed political representatives, most of whom have not stated that they support additional emergency services for us, the people of the region”.
Ballyvaughan native Noeleen added, “We have heard it all: the money that has already been invested, that money is no problem: that the clinical experts do not recommend the expansion or reinstatement of emergency provision, that Ennis, Nenagh and St. John’s are unsafe, that a further ninety-six beds will be ready in 2024 with a further ninety-six two years later, that the region needs more private hospitals, more elective hospitals. Yet we have a situation when in our small region at least one person a day is dying as a direct result of the failures of an inadequate and failed Emergency Department. A very, very small number of our politicians across the region have stated that they do support the reinstatement of services in the region. The silence or spin of the rest saying a lot but in effect saying nothing will no longer work”.