FINE Gael’s Deputy Kieran O’Donnell has urged the HSE to increase bed capacity at University Hospital Limerick before the annual increase in presentations over the winter months.
With the new emergency department (ED) for the region’s busiest hospital not due to open until 2016, Deputy O’Donnell has written to the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and HSE CEO Tony O’Brien looking for a 30-bed short-stay unit to be opened.
This, he said, could be facilitated by “repurposing” the acute medical assessment unit (AMAU) near the ED and moving the activities of the AMAU elsewhere on the campus.
“In light of persistent problems in A&E, I believe that the HSE must take measures to alleviate overcrowding for patients - and that a window currently exists to take such action before the winter pressures arise,” the Limerick city TD stated.
“With this in mind, I have formally requested that the HSE opens a new dedicated 30-bed unit. This is solely aimed at relieving the pressure on A&E in the interim period before the new A&E is completed.
“It would seem sensible to put a new short-stay bed unit in place so that the hospital can cope until such a time as the new A&E facilities are open,” said Deputy O’Donnell.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said earlier this month that at least 70 new beds were required to alleviate overcrowding - but that management was seeking funding for only 30 as part of a quality improvement plan.