OVERCROWDING at University Hospital Limerick is significantly higher than winter levels in 2015, according to new figures published this week.
A monthly report, published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, showed that the Dooradoyle A&E had the biggest number of patients treated on trolleys, with 610 patients being treated on trolleys and additional beds or trolleys in the wards.
The emergency department was busier in August than in November when there were 542 patients on trolleys, and in December when there were 453 patients on trolleys. There were 682 on trolleys this January.
Though it is a slight relief on August 2015 figures — 618 patients on trolleys — the overcrowding rate was 28% higher than the Cork University Hospital, which had the second busiest emergency department with 473 patients on trolleys.
Where, previously, Beaumont Hospital was one of the busiest in the country, it has cut its overcrowding by more than 50% since August 2015, after recording 335 patients on trolleys. The lowest rate of overcrowding in any August at UHL was in 2006, when there were just 26 patients treated on trolleys. In August 2014, there were 458 patients on trolleys.
Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea, condemning the hospital’s overcrowding, said in a statement: “This is a scandalous increase, and clearly there are systemic issues in the hospital that require urgent action. Lives are being put at risk.
“There is no good news in these figures for sick people in Limerick. It’s clear that there is no plan in place as we head towards winter.
“Clearly, things are getting worse. I am calling on the Minister for Health, and the HSE Winter Initiative group to pay special attention to our hospital in Limerick and ensure that extra resources and personnel are provided to the hospital,” he added.
See this week's broadsheet editions for more, including a response from the UL Hospitals Group - on sale this Thursday morning