TDs call for 'urgent and robust' examination of trolley crisis at University Hospital Limerick

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

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Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

TDs call for 'urgent and robust' examination of trolley crisis at University Hospital Limerick

A letter, inset, was sent to Minister for Health Simon Harris this Wednesday

A NUMBER of TDs have written a letter to Minister for Health Simon Harris, calling for an “urgent and robust” external examination of the trolley crisis at University Hospital Limerick.

This comes after representatives of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation met with TDs from Limerick, Clare and Tipperary in Leinster House to discuss the escalating overcrowding problem in Dooradoyle.

This comes two weeks after UHL set the new overcrowding record with 81 patients on trolleys on April 4.

Seven TDs in the Mid-West signed the letter addressed to Minister Harris. They were Maurice Quinlivan, Niall Collins, Willie O’Dea, Timmy Dooley, Jackie Cahill, Mattie McGrath, and Seamus Healy.

The cross-party letter was signed by Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail and Independent TDs.

According to the letter, seen by the Leader, the INMO outlined concerns in relation to “significant clinical risks” due to “severe overcrowding”; the hospital being in full capacity protocol; day services and medical assessment areas are being used for patients who are admitted on trolleys waiting for a hospital bed; staff concerns over “clinical risks that exist for patients and concerns for their health, safety and wellbeing”; staff reports that patients are attending South Tipperary General Hospital and Galway University Hospital instead of UHL; GPs reporting that patients express “significant reticence” to attending UHL “despite their medical situation requiring them to attend”; and “significant” industrial relations problems.

The INMO has likened UHL’s situation to Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust when a Healthcare Commission investigation into their provision of care in 2009.

“The combination of the culture, practices and behaviours in University Hospital Limerick combined with the lack of appropriate infrastructure and indeed appropriate planning prior to the reconfiguration of services ensures that the situation outlined in these reports with regard to Mid-Staffordshire may also apply within University Hospital Limerick,” the letter stated on Wednesday evening.

The TDs added: “This requires urgent and robust external examination in order to protect patients and restore the faith of staff in the management of the hospital.”

The are now calling on Minister Harris to appoint an external expert to investigate:

Clinical risk and review the standards of governance and performance within the hospital. This must be done by an external, preferably international clinical expert.

Failure to comply with national agreements, collective agreements and good IR practice with regards to all employee relations and HR matters within the hospital.

Limerick City TD Maurice Quinlivan, who invited the INMO to speak with the TDs last week, said that he was pleased that his fellow TDs “were able to come together to send this important letter to the Minister for Health outlining our serious concern at the current conditions in UHL”.

“The signatories to this letter represent the constituencies of Limerick City, Limerick County, Clare and Tipperary, and the cross-party nature of it indicates the widespread concern from all corners about the conditions in University Hospital Limerick.”

Deputy Quinlivan added: “Urgent action is needed, as it is only a matter of time before a serious incident occurs with this level of overcrowding. The Minister must intervene directly in this situation.”

Following the meeting last week, Deputy Niall Collins said “an independent review of the systems here is urgently required”.

Meanwhile, 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.