Minister orders A&E report to address overcrowding at Limerick hospital

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

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MINISTER for Health Leo Varadkar has ordered a report on emergency department services at University Hospital Limerick and has expressed “extreme concern” at the current situation with a new department two years from delivery.

MINISTER for Health Leo Varadkar has ordered a report on emergency department services at University Hospital Limerick and has expressed “extreme concern” at the current situation with a new department two years from delivery.

That is according to Fine Gael’s Deputy Kieran O’Donnell, who has been urging the HSE to open a 30-bed short-stay unit in Dooradoyle as an interim measure.

“Immediately on the resumption of the Dail, I held a special meeting with Minister Varadkar to address the issue of overcrowding at the A&E in University Hospital Limerick,” the Limerick City TD explained.

“The meeting came about at my request, with the objective of advancing the proposal to put in place a dedicated 30-bed short-stay unit before the winter in order to alleviate the overcrowding that has become so common at A&E in Limerick. This is an interim measure until the new A&E facilities are open in 2016.

“I am pleased,” said Deputy O’Donnell, “that the Minister, at my request, has held discussions with Tony O’Brien, director general of the HSE in relation to the A&E facilities in Limerick, and has commissioned a special report from the HSE on the issue.

“These are very significant steps towards delivering a solution that will address overcrowding in A&E.

“Furthermore, Minister Varadkar expressed ‘extreme concern’ about the situation in A&E in the interim before the opening of the new facilities in 2016. I impressed on him the unique circumstances here, where the entire region depends on a single A&E that has been described by HIQA as ‘not fit for purpose’. I also impressed upon the Minister that I am seeking a specific interim solution until the new A&E is open,” said Deputy O’Donnell.

His proposal is to convert the existing acute medical assessment unit (AMAU) beside the emergency department (ED) into a dedicated 30-bed short-stay unit to relieve the ED. The AMAU could be moved elsewhere within the campus to accommodate this, according to Deputy O’Donnell.

Long waits in the department remain the norm, with a readers picture, above, taken at 7pm on Saturday, showing a message advising patients they faced a nine-hour wait to see a doctor.