Pensioner spent 43 hours on trolley over New Year in Limerick hospital

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

UHL had the worst level of overcrowding in 2017 in Ireland with 8,889 patients being treated on trolleys at ED

UHL had the worst level of overcrowding in 2017 in Ireland with 8,889 patients being treated on trolleys at ED

A COUNTY Limerick pensioner spent 43 hours on a trolley on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in University Hospital Limerick’s emergency department, the Leader has learned.

The hospital was significantly the worst in the country for overcrowding in 2017 with nearly 9,000 patients being treated on trolleys.

This newspaper received a call from the elderly man, who did not wish to be named, who presented at the new facility last Sunday night. 

Speaking on Tuesday afternoon he said: “I have been on a trolley for 43 hours but I am not the worst, there is a lady here from East Clare and she is 64 hours waiting.”

He said, while on a trolley, that the trolleys were so close together in the A&E that they constituted a fire hazard.

“I must say, though, that the nurses here are fantastic. They don't take any breaks, stay on after their shift has ended and are really brilliant, but the system badly needs a changing.”

After the gentleman was admitted to a ward, he told the Leader on Tuesday night:

“You would read about weekend breaks in the newspapers. But now I have discovered a new one — a weekend trolley break!”

In response to a number of queries, a spokesperson for the UL Hospitals Group said that there “were no significant staffing deficits, medical or nursing” at the ED at UHL on December 31 and January 1.

“Senior clinicians were on site rounding and/or on-call as appropriate throughout the holiday period and patients who were medically well were discharged. Along with these senior decision makers, the head of unscheduled care, and a member of the senior executive team were both on site at UHL and on-call to ensure patient discharges were managed optimally during this period.”

He said that it can confirm that all available beds are open across the UL Hospitals Group.

“The number of nursing vacancies across the UL Hospitals Group is at an all-time low following successful national and international recruitment campaigns. Recruitment of nurses is on-going with interviews taking place on a monthly basis and successful candidates being panelled,” he stated. 

Meanwhile, University Hospital Limerick was significantly the worst in the country for overcrowding in 2017 with nearly 9,000 patients being treated on trolleys.

According to the annual Trolley Watch figures published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, there were 8,889 patients treated on emergency department trolleys and on extra beds or trolleys in the wards at UHL.

This is at least 2,000 more patients than any other hospital in the country, ahead of Cork University Hospital at 6,815 and University Hospital Galway at 6,563.

In 2016, there were 8,090 patients on trolleys. The lowest ever annual rate of overcrowding at the Dooradoyle facility was just 1,367 patients in 2007.

INMO general secretary Liam Doran has said that “immediate and dramatic action” is needed to tackle the overcrowding crisis. And on Tuesday morning, UHL had one of the highest rates of overcrowding with 55 patients on trolleys, amid a flu outbreak in the Mid-West.

On Monday night, UL Hospitals Group CEO, Prof Colette Cowan said that its emergency department was “very busy” over the past number of days as “flu season takes a serious grip”.

Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan has described UHL’s annual figures as “totally unacceptable”.