APPROXIMATELY 40 extra new beds will be open by the end of this week at the University Hospital Limerick, as part of the UL Hospital Group’s efforts to tackle overcrowding at the Dooradoyle campus.
As part of the Winter Resilience Plan, which aims to reduce patient overcrowding between now and March 2016, up to 20 “old stock” beds will be reopened by the end of the week, following the refurbishment of an isolation ward.
Nineteen new beds have also been made available as a result of the first phase of the new Leben building last week.
According to a spokesperson for the UL Hospitals Group, five additional beds will open by the end of the year, “once extra staffing has been secured from the ongoing recruitment campaign”.
The plan, which was launched in October, outlined that 24 new beds would be opened to coincide with the opening of the Leben building, and that a 24-bedded isolation ward would reopen.
According to UL Hospitals Group CEO Colette Cowan, the extra beds at the Dooradoyle hospital will help relieve overcrowding at UHL, which she said has been “aggravated” by the temporary closure of the isolation ward during “an unusually busy summer”.
Welcoming the news, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said that the opening of the Leben building means that “dedicated and modern facilities for stroke and CF patients.
“It’s a big step forward for patients, and provides improved working conditions for staff. The Leben building will also free up extra capacity elsewhere as services move into the new building.
“And there’s more to come, as the new emergency department is due to open in early 2017 and the new maternity facility will also be developed on the Dooradoyle campus.”
According to a monthly report published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) earlier this month, UHL had its highest level of patient overcrowding for the month of October, with a total of 763 were on trolleys.
In October 2014, according to the INMO trolley and ward watch reports, there were 484 people on trolleys. The lowest ever rate recorded in October was in 2006 with 147 on trolleys.
Between Monday and Tuesday, 44 people were treated on hospital trolleys at UHL, according to the INMO reports.