A PUBLIC meeting will take place in Limerick tonight as part of a general election campaign to seek pledges to reverse A&E cuts at University Hospital Limerick and to reverse the closure of St John’s Hospital emergency department.
The ‘Reverse A&E Cuts and Closures’ meeting will take place at Pery Hotel, on Glentworth Street, this Thursday at 8pm, and will feature guest speaker Marie O’Connor, who wrote the book Emergency: Irish Hospitals in Chaos.
Organised by general election candidate Cllr Cian Prendiville, the campaign also consists of a Facebook page dedicated to people’s first-hand experiences of the emergency department at UHL, entitled Limerick A&E Trolley Tales.
“Now we need to demand a recovery in our health service, and the re-opening of these A&Es. With the general election around the corner, this public meeting is a chance for us to discuss how to put this issue firmly on the agenda.
“We want to get every candidate to commit to re-opening the closed A&Es to take the pressure of UHL, and reverse the cuts in beds, nurses and staff,” Cllr Prendiville said.
He added that he supports the nurses’ decision to go on nationwide strike action at each emergency department, starting on December 15.
“We believe patients and staff should unite and demand a decent health service for all, free at point of need.”
Meanwhile, there was not a single person seen on a trolley at the emergency department at UHL on Monday morning.
According to daily figures published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), there was one patient on an additional bed or trolley in the hospital.
The figures show that UHL was one of eight emergency departments with zero people on trolleys, and had one of the lowest overcrowding rates in the country.
In late October, the hospital launched its Winter Resilience Plan, the aim of which was to reduce overcrowding at UHL from November to March.
Over the past month, 38 extra beds have been opened at the Dooradoyle hospital; 19 in the Leben Building, and 19 other “old stock” beds in a recently-refurbished ward. Up to 10 additional beds are to be opened, following a recruitment campaign.
Last Tuesday evening, INMO members “overwhelmingly” voted in favour of strike action in the 25 emergency departments across the country. Though an INMO spokesperson acknowledged the hospital’s reduction in overcrowding, he said that UHL will “not be exempt” from strike action, between December and the New Year.