€25m needed for University Hospital Limerick's 96-bed unit

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

€25m needed for University Hospital Limerick's 96-bed unit

A NEW 96-bed unit that will help alleviate overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick will need approximately €25m to see its delivery.

However, the UL Hospitals Group must wait until next May before a decision is made on a funding bid. The hospital has been seeking significant funding for this vital project for a number of years, it is understood.

And Senator Kieran O’Donnell, who will soon make contact with the Minister for Health Simon Harris and HSE chief Tony O’Brien, has said the hospital can secure seed money through the Department of Health and HSE, to allow the project enter its design phase.

It is understood that the design phase for this project could cost up to €1m — a fraction of the overall costs. He said that if the hospital can secure this seed fund by the mid-term capital review next May, no time will be lost and the project will be “shovel ready” to construct.

When this 96-bed unit is built, this “will ensure that people are not stuck on trolleys in the A&E”.

According to recent figures published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, UHL had the highest rate of overcrowding in November, with 789 patients treated on trolleys in the A&E, and on additional trolleys, beds and chairs in the wards. And so far this year, more than 7,500 patients have been treated on trolleys at the Dooradoyle facility.

“I am basically asking Minister Harris to effectively facilitate seed money being provided by the Department to the HSE, to allow it to proceed with getting on with the design of the 96 acute bed unit, so that no time is lost when the capital review comes along in 2017. It’s critical.

"If you go back to reconfiguration, we lost 50 beds with Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s, and then we lost another 18 A&E beds between each of those, and then there is the sheer growth in the numbers. Certainly, in more recent times, within the A&E itself, we have continuous overcrowding, and the specially-designated unit for children has now become overcrowded,” he said.

He added that the conditions are “intolerable”. 

“This is something that everyone knows, but we have to find a way to deal with this. The first thing is the winter initiative emergency, the new A&E will open in May 2017, and following up on that, it is critical that the 96 acute beds are built adjacent to the new A&E, and overheard the dialysis unit.