LIMERICK will be home to one of the top three academic hospitals in Ireland within five years.
That is the ambition of Prof Pierce Grace, chief clinical director of the University of Limerick Hospitals Group, as outlined at a research conference that attracted over 250 attendees from research, healthcare and industry sectors to the Strand Hotel.
Under health reforms, the six acute hospitals in Limerick, Croom, Ennis and Nenagh have been consolidated into the UL Hospitals Group with a single management and governance structure across the sites. And the name is a reflection of a new formal partnership with the university and its medical school. Research not only had long-term benefits for patients but the opportunity to pursue academic interests helped attract senior medical professionals to work in Limerick hospitals.
“This is a fantastic day for UL Hospitals,” Prof Grace told the inaugural research symposium.
“We aim to be one of the top three university hospitals in Ireland by 2018 and strategically we see excellence in research as one of the ways that we will achieve that goal.”
Opening the conference, Prof Niall O’Higgins, chairman of UL Hospitals Trust, set out the importance of research to the new set-up in the Mid-West.
“The UL hospitals have been aligned successfully into a coherent entity. Now affiliated to the university, the hospitals are developing rapidly as academic centres. With such progress comes the obligation to participate in research. Research effort is of huge importance in improving the care of patients,” said Prof O’Higgins.
“The success of the symposium...demonstrates that collaboration between the hospital and the university is strong. A high degree of research expertise is in place. It is hoped that the annual research symposium will provide clear proof that standards of research and education continue to rise and will bring with them improvements in patient care. With continued co-operation the UL Hospitals are well-placed to become among the best academic medical centres in the country.”
The daylong symposium was organised by Prof Austin Stack, Foundation Chair of Medicine, UHL, who said it had attracted “over 200 submitted abstracts, 176 posters, and 18 oral presentations and expert talks from five national and international speakers”.