Calls for health minister to 'intervene' in UHL overcrowding crisis

Fintan Walsh


Fintan Walsh

The ED at University Hospital Limerick, which opened in May

The ED at University Hospital Limerick, which opened in May

OVERCROWDING at University Hospital Limerick is again the worst in the country, according to new monthly figures released this week.

Statistics published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation show that there were 878 patients being treated on emergency department trolleys and on extra trolleys or beds in the wards at UHL in November. 

Though the overcrowding rate was lower than September levels – 902 patients – it is significantly higher than the October figures, when there were 712 patients on trolleys.

There were 227 more patients being treated on trolleys at UHL than at Cork University Hospital, the INMO figures also reveal.

And so far this year, there have been 8,116 patients being treated on trolleys at the hospital in Dooradoyle.

Condemning the findings in the monthly report, Sinn Fein Deputy Maurice Quinlivan said that he fears that the action needed to tackle the problem “will only happen after a tragedy occurs due to the overcrowding levels and, by the stage, it will be too late”.

The Limerick City TD tweeted: “In July, Health Minister Simon Harris expressed his anger when he contacted UHL — we need more than anger from the Minister we need intervention.”

In a statement, Deputy Quinlivan said that he was “constantly raising the issues facing University Hospital Limerick in the Dáil, but this government is not listening”.

“The huge numbers on hospital trolleys is becoming a monthly occurrence, and Minister Harris needs to take radical action, focusing on four main areas; recruitment and retention of staff, reopening closed beds, adequate step down facilities, and proper primary and community care.”

Nationally, there was a 7% decrease in trolley numbers, which was welcomed by INMO general secretary, Liam Doran.

“However, the very significant increase in additional patients on inpatient wards, on trolleys or additional beds is most disturbing and suggests hospital management are increasingly repeating the mistakes of the past.

"Overcrowding wards has never solved the problem, of hospital overcrowding, and this will only be done through additional acute beds,” he stated.