'Shocking and unacceptable' scenes in University Hospital Limerick

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Figures released by the INMO show that 36 patients were waiting for a bed this morning, including 20 on trolleys and 16 in wards in UHL this Tuesday

Figures released by the INMO show that 36 patients were waiting for a bed this morning, including 20 on trolleys and 16 in wards in UHL this Tuesday

THE number of people waiting for beds on trolleys and in wards in University Hospital Limerick was the second highest in the State again this Tuesday morning.

Figures released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) show that 36 patients were waiting for a bed this morning, including 20 on trolleys and 16 in wards.

It’s the second highest figure in the country, after University Hospital Galway, which had 44 patients waiting on trolleys and in wards.

Sinn Féin deputy Maurice Quinlivan said the scenes and stories described in an RTÉ report on Limerick’s A&E unit, broadcast this Monday morning, were “shocking and totally unacceptable” but “not surprising”.

Deputy Quinlivan said the broadcast on RTE Radio One “made for difficult listening”, especially in light of the new €25 million emergency department, which opened in UHL this May.

One 86 year-old patient, who was lying on a trolley, could not move as he had previously had a leg amputated and there was no hoist to get him in and out of the trolley. 

Another woman reported that she had been waiting 55 hours on a trolley, and was due to be treated for a blood infection. 

Nonetheless, the woman praised the staff and said “you couldn't ask for better”.

“It is disgraceful that these stories are replicated up and down the country week in, week out and there is no sign of the government getting a handle on this,” said deputy Quinlivan.

The level of overcrowding in UHL was also the worst in the country so far this year, with 4,782 patients waiting for a bed.

A spokesperson for the hospital said that the number on trolleys typically reduces over the course of the day, as patients are discharged or transferred. 

This June, the first full month since the opening of the new department, there was a six per cent increase in ED attendances and a 13% increase in attendances by persons aged 75 and over.

“UL Hospitals Group regrets that any patient has to face long waits in our ED during busy periods and a number of measures are taken to relieve pressure on the ED in line with our escalation plan,” said a spokesperson.

It said among the measures taken to relieve pressure on the ED are the transfer of suitable patients from UHL to Ennis Hospital, Nenagh Hospital, St John’s Hospital and Croom Orthopaedic Hospital, amongst other measures.

The spokesperson said that UHL’s 400 inpatient beds is “not being sufficient for the needs of the Mid-West region”.  

A bid to build an additional 96 bed block on the UHL site has been submitted to the Department of Health and approval has been granted for funding of the design stage of the build.

Plans to open a 17-bed short stay unit for medical patients in the old ED are advanced and it is expected the unit will open in the near future.

 – Report your experience of A&E in Limerick: email anne.sheridan@limerickleader.ie or news@limerickleader.ie; call 061 214502