THE 29 new beds that have been promised at the University Hospital Limerick will cost the State a total of €12.5m to run, by the end of 2016.
As a result of the first phase of the Leben building opening at the Dooradoyle campus in early November, 19 new beds were opened at the neurology-stroke unit and five beds have opened at the cystic fibrosis inpatient unit.
Five additional beds will be open in the neuro-stroke unit by the end of the month, following a recruitment drive.
According to a UL Hospitals Group spokesperson, associated running costs for these new beds will amount to €2.5m by the end of this month.
As part of the additional funding that was secured for these new beds, it will cost the State a total of €10m in 2016, according to the UL Hospitals Group. The 29 new beds were introduced as part of the UL Hospitals Group’s extensive measures to tackle overcrowding at UHL, between November and March.
Fianna Fáil spokesperson for justice, Niall Collins welcomed the fact that the “much needed” beds are now in use, but said that he hoped the running costs of the beds would decrease in the future.
“People will be commenting on the cost of maintaining these, however these serve people with very complex illnesses. Many people in the community have been waiting for this level of care for far too long,” he said.
As part of the hospital’s winter resilience plan, it is expected that the Leben building — which cost €16.5m to design and construct — will help ease the numbers of people who are waiting on trolleys or additional beds in the emergency department and wards, in Dooradoyle.
Additionally, 19 extra “old stock” beds have been reopened at the hospital since November. This, according to CEO Colette Cowan, will help free up “significant bed capacity”.
The hospital, under a national protocol announced recently, will aim to not have more than eight people — or one person waiting on a trolley for more than nine hours — at the emergency department.