Anger over trolley crisis in Limerick heightens as public set to march in protest

Fintan Walsh


Fintan Walsh


Anger over trolley crisis in Limerick heightens as public set to march in protest

People will take to the streets on May 4 to protest against the crisis in UHL

CLINICAL directors of the UL Hospitals Group have written an open letter, calling on the community, politicians and activists for support amid the escalating overcrowding crisis in Limerick. 

The unprecedented move comes a week after the Leader announced its campaign to highlight the trolley crisis at University Hospital Limerick.

A public protest against the trolley crisis will take place in Limerick city on May 4. In the letter,  five clinical directors said that UHL has experienced “serious challenges” in providing inpatient beds for acutely ill patients.

“These shortages have led to unacceptable numbers of elderly and frail patients waiting for far too long in the ED for a bed in the hospital.”

The directors outlined the resources needed at each stage of care when acutely ill patients are presented to the emergency department.

“It can be seen that no matter how excellent the ED facility is, and the new one at UHL is a superb modern facility, serious problems will arise if there are not enough doctors and nurses, not enough inpatient beds, not enough access to critical care of theatre, not access to diagnostics, not enough step down facility beds and/or community services.”

The letter was signed by directors Prof Paul Burke, Dr Gerry Burke, Mr Daid Waldron, Dr Margaret O’Connor, and Dr Denis O’Keeffe. They said that “unfavourable comparisons” have been made with the performance of the RCSI Hospitals Group and its flagship facility Beaumont Hospital.

They outlined that UHL serves a population of approximately 385,000 while Beaumont serves 290,000; Beaumont has 630 inpatient beds while UHL has 454; Beaumont has 31% more staff; UHL saw 63,850 new emergency patients while Beaumont saw 52,956.

“The only way that this huge volume of attendances and admissions can be coped with by UHL, with a reduced number of beds, is by maximising efficiency.”

They said much of UL Hospital’s strategic vision is “dependent on additional funding”, which they said is necessary to bring staffing levels up to the same levels in other catchment areas.

“There is a lot of competition in Ireland for resources. Their distribution is controlled centrally. So this ambitious agenda will need the support of the community and its representatives and activists. We all want the same thing – a hospital that is deeply rooted in the community that services ir well and that it known as a centre of excellence for clinical care, teaching and research.” 

A number of Mid-West TDs have written a joint letter to Minister for Health Simon Harris calling for a “robust and external examination” of UHL’s crisis. This was signed by Maurice Quinlivan, Niall Collins, Willie O’Dea, Mattie McGrath, Jackie Cahill, Seamus Healy and Timmy Dooley at the time of going to print. All TDs in the Mid-West were invited to sign the letter. 

Speaking ahead of the public protest, organiser Cllr Mary Cahillane said UHL is “at breaking point”.