Belfast Telegraph

Call for ‘bespoke plan’ for Limerick Hospital as it breaks overcrowding record

On Monday 85 patients did not have a bed.

A stethoscope (Hugh Macknight/PA)
A stethoscope (Hugh Macknight/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

University Hospital Limerick has broken a record for the highest number of patients without a bed, according to a leading nursing union.

Some 85 patients were without beds in University Hospital Limerick on Monday morning, the highest figure ever recorded in an Irish hospital in a single day according to Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) figures.

The union has called for emergency funding to tackle the issue.

The previous record was 82, set in October 2019, also in Limerick, as the hospital is consistently the most overcrowded hospital in Ireland.

In March, the INMO learned a ward in the hospital was to be closed, Ward 1A, used primarily for the treatment of  patients who require short periods of admission, causing the loss of 17 funded beds.

A move that was described as “beggars belief” by local Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan, and one that the INMO warned would cause further overcrowding issues.

Patients without beds are typically on chairs and trolleys, often in corridors lined along each wall without privacy and often in severe discomfort.

In Limerick, there were 55 patients in the emergency department and 30 in wards elsewhere in the hospital.

The INMO has called for a direct, immediate intervention in the hospital from senior HSE management, including:

– Cancellation of non-essential elective work
– More home care packages to move patients out of the hospital
– Emergency funding for extra agency staff
– An immediate end to the recruitment ban for nurses and midwives
– Extra support for GPs and Public Health Nurses to allow more home/community treatment

On Monday there was a further 631 patients without beds across the country, 22 of them children.

The other worst-hit hospitals include:   Cork University Hospital, 52, Letterkenny University Hospital, 47, Tallaght University Hospital, 36
and University Hospital Galway, 33.

INMO assistant director of Industrial Relations for the region, Mary Fogarty said:  “Despite the best efforts of local staff, the situation in Limerick continues to escalate.

“The hospital is breaking records in the worst possible way.

“Promises of future improvement will not suffice. Real action is needed today.

“We simply do not have sufficient capacity.

“Without an increase in beds and the professionals to staff them, this problem will continue to escalate.

“Our members are on the frontline providing the best care they can but the situation is intolerable for them and unsafe for patients.”

Alan Kelly TD, has called for a bespoke plan for the hospital.

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Minister for Health Simon Harris (Brian Lawless/PA)

“This is not good enough for patients, staff and their families,” he said.

“We need a specific plan for University Hospital Limerick.

“The circumstances people are being left in are disgraceful.

“Staff in UHL are over stretched, stressed  beyond words because of the recruitment ban the government continues to deny exists.

“(Health) Minister (Simon) Harris cannot plead ignorance on this one, as he does with so many other issues.

“The grave concerns of patients and staff of UHL are constantly being brought to the Minister’s attention and he seems to be doing very little to solve the problems in Limerick.

“Minister Harris needs to get his act together and produce a bespoke plan for University Hospital Limerick, he needs to act swiftly and decisively and take action to solve this crisis in UHL, if he does not it is the people of Limerick who will continue to suffer.”

PA

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