'Signal day' for Limerick and Mid-West patients in Government's multi-billion euro plan

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

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Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

'Signal day' for Limerick and Mid-West patients in Government's multi-billion euro plan

Prof Colette Cowan with Minister for Health Simon Harris

THE CHIEF of the UL Hospitals Group has said that it is a “signal day” for patients of the Mid-West, after the Government officially made commitments to fund the relocation of University Maternity Hospital Limerick and a new 96-bed block.

The relocation of UMHL to University Hospital Limerick in Dooradoyle will cost in the region of €210m, while the new acute bed block - to be located above the emergency department - will cost around €25m.

The funding has been committed by the Government in its €116bn 10-year National Development Plan.

UL Hospitals CEO, Prof Colette Cowan said that they are “delighted to see that commitment formalised today” this Friday afternoon.

The need to increase inpatient accommodation at University Hospital Limerick has been obvious for a number of years. UL Hospitals Group fully supports the reforms outlined in Slaintecare in terms of a patient-centred,  integrated model of care; additional supports for primary and community care; prevention and self-management of disease and hospital avoidance.

“However, the demographic pressures alone make plain the requirement for more inpatient accommodation at UHL. The most visible impact will be to greatly improve the experience of patients in reducing the numbers waiting for a bed. It will also allow our new Emergency Department, our Acute Medical Assessment Unit, our Surgical Assessment Unit and Surgical Day Ward to function in the manner in which they are designed,” she stated.

Prof Cowan said that much progress has already been made with the planning and design of the new acute block and the maternity relocation which “will ensure delays are kept to a minimum” as soon as a funding and construction plan is arranged.

“The inpatient block will be constructed directly above the new ED. It will comprise single rooms with ensuites over four floors that will not only make for more comfortable surroundings for our patients but will also provide us with the isolation facilities required for proper infection prevention and control.

“For too long, the nightingale ward accommodation that predominates at UHL has meant we have been in many cases facing 21st century challenges with 20th century infrastructure. This will change before too long.”

The UL Hospitals Group has been bidding for additional funding for this project for more than a year.

Speaking on the relocation of the Ennis Road maternity hospital, Prof Cowan “has long since outgrown its current site.

“Approximately 4,500 babies a year are born at UMHL. But the main reason for relocation is not the limited footprint of the current site but securing the best interests of mothers and babies in this region.

“International best practice requires that maternity units are co-located alongside major tertiary hospitals where women and babies have the assurance provided by ease of access to specialist medical and surgical services for adult and paediatric patients, state-of-the-art diagnostics and access to intensive care and high dependency units.”

Prof Cowan added that the new developments for UHL will mean a good news day for Ennis, Nenagh, Croom and St John’s hospitals in the Mid-West region.

“It will allow us to attract the specialist staff that will benefit the group as a whole and also provide services in our model 2 hospitals.”