Limerick trolley crisis hits all-time high as hospitals battle 'worst flu on record'

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent


Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent


Limerick trolley crisis hits all-time high as hospitals battle 'worst flu on record'

UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick has matched its overcrowding record as 80 patients were being treated on trolleys in the emergency department and wards, this Monday morning. 

And according to a spokesperson for the UL Hospitals Group, hospitals in Limerick and the Mid-West battling “the worst flu on record” as the outbreak continues 12 weeks past the projected baseline. 

According to daily figures published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, it has the highest rate of overcrowding in the country. 

The second highest overcrowding is at Cork University Hospital with 43 people on trolleys. 

The trolley numbers at UHL makes up 11.2% of the country’s overcrowding this Monday. 

The figure of 80 patients on trolleys at UHL was first recorded on March 22, 2013. 

The UL Hospitals Group said that attendances “has been very high” following the severe weather two weeks ago. 

A spokesperson said that it is currently “managing high volumes of patients including significant volumes of frail elderly patients with chronic conditions and complex care needs”. 

Across the hospitals in the Mid-West, there are 16 patients being treated for the flu. 

“While the flu rates are on the decline we are now 12 weeks above the baseline which makes it the worst flu on record in terms of its longevity. This is leading to a significant increase in isolation requirements.”

It also confirmed that some non-urgent elective procedures will be cancelled over the coming days “as we prioritise inpatient beds for those patients waiting in the ED. All patients affected are being contacted and their appointments will be rescheduled”. 

“There will be some curtailment of non-urgent elective procedures over the coming days

The UL Hospitals is now appealing to members of the public to consider all their care options before presenting to the emergency department in Dooradoyle. 

UL Hospitals Group is appealing to members of the public to consider all their care options before presenting to the Emergency Department at UHL.

“UL Hospitals apologises for any distress or inconvenience caused to patients or their loved ones who have experienced long wait times in the ED at UHL, and we would like to reassure patients and their families that we are working to alleviate the situation.

“UL Hospitals Group has seen a sustained increase in attendances year to date.  It should be noted that prior to Storm Emma, the increase in attendances was up 17% in Feb 2018 which has created significant pressure for beds.  The numbers of patients attending the ED following the severe weather over the last week has been very high, with very ill patients presenting leading to an increasing number requiring admittance to a ward. 

UL Hospitals Group confirmed that at 8am on Monday, there were 55 admitted patients in the emergency department at UHL. This included patients who were being accommodated in some of the 49 single rooms/designated bays within the new department.

It included 11 patients who were “appropriately isolated in single rooms in the ED for proper infection prevention and control.  A shortage of appropriate isolation facilities elsewhere in the hospital makes this the best solution in the interests of all patients”.

In addition there were 24 patients accommodated on extra beds and on trolleys on wards.

“Additional surge capacity was being used to accommodate admitted patients in beds in the Acute Medical assessment Unit (15), the Surgical Day Ward (10). These units have appropriate inpatient accommodation and their use in this manner forms part of the hospital’s escalation plan, which is put into effect at times of high demand.”

Transfers continue to Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s hospitals with these hospitals also operating to capacity.

The spokesperson said that injury units in St John’s, Ennis and Nenagh hospitals are open for appropriate injuries. Injury Units are open in Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Sunday and 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday at St. John's Hospital. 

Others with a less serious illness can be treated by their GP or out of hours GP service where their GP can refer them to an Assessment Unit the following day if required.

“However, if you are seriously injured or ill or are worried your life is at risk the ED will assess and treat you as a priority.”