Overcrowding peaks at University Hospital Limerick's new emergency department

4,120 patients treated on trolleys so far in 2017

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

Overcrowding peaks at University Hospital Limerick's new emergency department

UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick has been significantly the most overcrowded in the country so far this year, new figures reveal. 

Additionally, UHL’s emergency department was the busiest facility in the country in the first month of operations. 

According to figures released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation this Monday morning, there were 4,120 patients treated on trolleys at UHL since January this year. This is 489 patients more than Cork University Hospital and 634 more than the third most overcrowded facility, University Hospital Galway. 

This significant overcrowding in the January to June time period is the highest ever recorded since records began. The lowest recorded was 679 patients, between January and June 2007. 

UHL’s new emergency department was also the most overcrowded facility in the country in June, with 640 patients treated on trolleys. The second most overcrowded facility was University Hospital Galway, with 566 patients on trolleys. 

This June overcrowding is just 13 patients less than the hospital’s record, which was met in June 2015 with 653 patients on trolleys. 

Speaking this morning, INMO general secretary, Liam Doran said:

“These figures represent further evidence that our health service, through inadequate bed and staffing levels, simply cannot cope with the demands being placed upon it.

“The legitimate attempts to reduce waiting lists has only exacerbated the levels of overcrowding, with the indignity and loss of privacy that result, now taking place, in this peak summer period, in Emergency Departments and Wards across the country. These figures confirm that hospitals cannot deal with both planned and emergency admissions at the same time confirming that our health service remains far too small.”

The new emergency department, which is three-times the size of the previous facility, officially opened its doors on May 29, and was launched by Minister for Health Simon Harris on June 13. 

Top emergency consultants at UHL have argued that overcrowding at the Dooradoyle campus will persist until its bed deficit problem is sorted. This is why UHL has sought €25m from the HSE and the Department of Health to deliver a new 96-bed block facility. It has secured €1m for its design phase, which is due to start in the coming months.