'No foresight' in Limerick hospital capacity crisis: O'Dea hits out over extra funding

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

‘Shocking’: Deputy Willie O’Dea

‘Shocking’: Deputy Willie O’Dea

FIANNA Fail TD Willie O’Dea has said that it is “shocking” that Health Minister Simon Harris “didn’t have the foresight” to provide extra funding to deliver more beds at University Hospital Limerick.

Deputy O’Dea has this week called on Minister Harris to outline a funding plan to increase bed capacity at UHL in order to meet proposed targets in the Bed Capacity Review.

“It’s shocking that Minister Harris didn’t have the foresight to recognise that additional funding is needed to deliver more beds in Irish hospitals such as University Hospital Limerick, which is consistently one of the most overcrowded hospitals in the country.

“Despite this, the Minister failed to secure extra funding for hospital beds in Budget 2018. He has not outlined what discussions he had, if any, with the Department of Finance regarding additional funding for hospital beds. There is already a €346m black hole in the health estimates as identified in the HSE service plan which will make the delivery of extra beds without additional funding impossible,” he stated this Tuesday. 

The city TD said the lack of provision of extra beds at UHL “is indefensible”.

“Experts have been calling for additional bed capacity in our hospitals to tackle the overcrowding crisis. The Bed Capacity Review was established to determine the extent of this additional bed requirement. It was never going to recommend a reduction in beds, so Fine Gael’s failure to put in place a funding plan in advance of its publication is shocking.”

He said that the Minister must set out a plan that details additional funding to be provided this year and next year.

“Fine Gael have to get real about delivering additional capacity in our hospitals. We know that demographic change means that there will be more and more demand placed on our health service in the years ahead. Additional capacity is needed to ensure all people get the care they need.”

The UL Hospitals Group has put in a bid to secure funding from the Department of Health for the €25m  project, which could alleviate UHL’s overcrowding problem.

According to a report by the INMO last week, there were 203 patients being treated on emergency department trolleys and on additional trolleys or beds in the wards at UHL.