Elected representatives have stressed that levels of overcrowding cannot be let return to the Mid-West.
Clare councillors quizzed health officials on plans in place to prevent overcrowding on trolleys this winter along with a backlog in elective surgeries since March.
Speaking at a recent meeting of the local authority, Cllr Mark Nestor (FF) referenced an increase in patients returning to the emergency department of University Hospital Limerick. Citing the need for social distancing in health settings, he asked “is there a plan in place to maintain social distancing while people are on trolleys”.
A similar concern was voiced by Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) who also questioned if social distance could be adhered to if patients were on trolleys. “With the backlog of elective surgeries, how do you plan to deal with that”.
Proper planning must be permanently implemented with regard to the country’s health care, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) outlined. “Maybe for once our health service at national level might be focused on just in case rather than just in time,” he commented.
Further construction plans bringing an additional bed capacity to UHL were welcomed by Cllr Joe Killeen (FF). He flagged that individuals who spent time on trolleys prior to COVID-19 must be ‘annoyed’. “What have we learned from COVID to get people off trolleys,” he asked.
According to Cllr Ian Lynch (IND), COVID-19 “proved the point that ye can be efficient in the health system with the resources”. The Kilrush representative believed the drop in personnel presenting to the A&E at the peak of the pandemic posed questions on how people use A&E.
Responding to the views expressed, CEO of UL Hospitals Group, Colette Cowan confirmed that individuals delayed coming to emergency departments over recent months but warned of the consequences with regard to cardiac problems and potential effects of not treating abdominal pain. “As an Executive team we have zero tolerance for trolleys,” she stated and added that physical distancing will continue to be applied in hospital settings.
On the subject of elective surgeries, Cowan confirmed that they resumed at the end of June slowly. “The health service is moving much slower,” she commented and detailed that all patients must be pre-screened and must quarantine before undergoing an elective surgery.