OVERCROWDING at University Hospital Limerick’s emergency department dramatically increased overnight, according to new figures released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation this week.
The new statistics show that there were 49 patients being treated on A&E trolleys, and on additional beds, trolleys or chairs in the wards at the Dooradoyle facility, this Wednesday morning.
This follows a week of generally low levels of overcrowding at UHL, with just 17 patients on trolleys on Monday, followed by 19 patients on Tuesday.
This week, Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan condemned the Government’s spend on agency staff at UHL, versus its spend on emergency departments nationwide.
According to information, obtained by Deputy Quinlivan, more than €47m was spent on agency staff at UHL since January 2013.
He said that the spend on agency staff is contrasted with the “pitiful investment” in alleviating the overcrowding in Irish hospitals.
“Spending on agency staff has reached a persistently unacceptable level, we need proper investment in our health institutions and to ensure quality treatment for patients and a reduction in the numbers on waiting lists,” he stated.
A total of €7,032,979 was spent in 2013. This doubled to €15,297,447 in 2014. In 2015, there was a €3.5m drop, at €11,875,439; and a total of €12,194,323 was spent on agency staff last year. In January alone, €965,013 was spent.
“While we all accept that hospitals must be properly staffed, this is an outrageous waste of public money.
“This is a damning indictment of the Government’s shambolic health policy and its indifference to universal public health provision.
“The reliance on agency staff has increased due to the mismanagement of hospitals across the country by the HSE and the Government, and the failure to attract Irish graduates to the health system here, who are being lost to well-run health systems abroad. It also illustrates the ongoing privatisation of the health service and the erosion of working conditions for medical professionals committed to working in the public sector.”