THE chief clinical director of UL Hospitals says that while he is “absolutely satisfied” that the services delivered to women at University Maternity Hospital, Limerick are “top rate”, “it is not desirable to have a maternity hospital standing on its own”.
At the first public meeting of UL Hospitals board, former CEO of HSE West, Dr Sheelah Ryan, asked if the hospital management were satisfied with the level of care being delivered to mothers while the maternity hospital is a stand-alone facility, particularly in light of the Savita Halappanavar report.
Professor Pierce Grace said he could “absolutely give an assurance” that the women of the Mid-West are being correctly looked after in the maternity hospital. Professor Grace added that they are in the process of ensuring that what was recommended in the Savita Halappanavar report is being implemented.
Prof Grace said that while most pregnancies proceed without any problem, when there is a problem “it tends to be a big problem and that’s why we need to have resources and facilities to hand and the best way to do that is to have them all located on a general hospital site”.
“From our point of view, we would like it to happen immediately,” said Professor Grace.
He added that in the general plan, there is a footprint on the University Hospital Limerick site for the maternity hospital “and our CEO has recently got funding to do a cost benefit analysis on the project”.
Meanwhile, the meeting heard that between January and May of last year there was an average of between 18 and 20 patients on trolleys in the emergency department in University Hospital Limerick at 8am. Prof Grace said that following the opening of the acute medical assessment unit in May, the numbers dropped from an average of 20 people a day on trolleys in May to less than 10 in June. “As the winter has come on us, they snuck back up on us and this month is not going to be good but we hope we will get a handle on this. We are not happy about having people on trolleys – it is not acceptable. We have capacity problems,” said Prof Grace.
The meeting heard that in the Higgins Report it has been suggested that each of the hospital groups would develop what is referred to as a “buddy hospital”.
“We have been looking at a hospital.I can’t tell you which it is yet but we are in negotiations with one of our Scottish colleagues to see if we could help each other,” said Prof Grace.
The meeting coincided with the launch of the UL Hospitals strategic plan which covers the next three years and aims at placing UL Hospitals among the top three Irish hospitals by 2018. The plan was drawn up by a working group headed by Professor Paul Finucane. The 3,000 staff working in the UL Hospitals were consulted throughout the process and given an opportunity to contribute to the strategy.