UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick has been described as “one of the worst in the country”, and that it has been of the “least effective” hospitals when dealing with issue of overcrowding, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.
These comments follow INMO’s announcement that industrial action will take place at UHL’s emergency department, after its members voted “overwhelmingly” in favour of strike action this week.
Because UHL has the only emergency department in the Mid-West region, Limerick staff will not be taking part in the first day of disputes on Tuesday, December 15, INMO stated.
He said that staff will be withdrawn from each hospital group, on the basis that there are alternative A&E departments to divert cases to.
He added that because of Limerick’s case, the INMO will “have to think that one through a bit further” and make “a contingency arrangement” for the hospital. A spokesperson for the UL Hospitals Group stated that the proposed actions which “may affect” the emergency department at UHL is “unnecessary”.
Mr Hughes told the Limerick Leader this week that UHL’s recent drop in overcrowding numbers is a “red herring” and that the situation “is not better”.
On Monday, INMO recorded the lowest overcrowding figures at the Dooradoyle campus, since the UL Hospitals Group launched its Winter Resilience Plan, the aim of which is to tackle overcrowding during the winter season.
There were 16 people on trolleys on both Monday and Wednesday, while there were 17 people on trolleys, on Tuesday — amongst the lower half of the country.
As part of the hospital’s winter plans, 38 extra beds were made available in the past three weeks.
“A hospital is not supposed to put additional beds on a ward that is already full, and Limerick are doing that all of the time. That suggests that they are in full capacity protocol. Any day you see them, on both trolley and ward watch, means that they are already overcrowded. Saying that the numbers have dropped is just saying that a very bad situation has become slightly worse.”
Mr Hughes added that nurses are “frustrated” with the “dangerous environment that they are working in”.
He said that there is no additional staff available to look after people “sitting for days in the emergency department”, and that the HSE will have to “look at this in a multi-faceted way.
“They are losing staff and yet they need staff as well. It gets worse and worse.”
UL Hospitals Group chief director of nursing and midwifery, Margaret Gleeson, said that it was “hugely disappointing” that the INMO would announce industrial action “at a time when the hospital and its local representatives have been engaged in meaningful discussions about improvements in the emergency department in UHL”.
The group spokesperson stated that as a result of an ongoing recruitment campaign and the completion of works, up to nine extra beds will be opened at the hospital soon.
The spokesperson added that the hospital is making “every effort” to fill vacancies.
INMO general secretary Liam Doran stated at Tuesday’s press conference that the campaign is a direct result of the Government’s “failure” to recognise the “overcrowding crisis”.
The emergency department at the University Hospital Limerick is one of 25 emergency departments that will be involved in the nationwide campaign, this winter.