University Hospital Limerick trolley crisis to undergo independent expert review

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

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Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

BREAKING: University Hospital Limerick trolley crisis to undergo independent expert review

AN “ENHANCED expert review” of University Hospital Limerick’s emergency department is to be carried out, Minister for Health Simon Harris has announced this Thursday morning. 

This follows calls from TDs in the Mid-West calling for an independent investigator to specifically investigate Limerick’s overcrowding crisis, after UHL set a new record for highest number of patients on trolleys on April 4. 

On that day, Minister Harris met with co-chairs of the Government’s emergency department taskforce, where he requested the HSE to examine this proposal. 

The HSE has since advised that a clinical, analytical review will take place for all hospital groups and community health organisations across the country, but will start with the UL Hospitals Group and its emergency department in Dooradoyle. 

In an email to members of the Oireachtas this Thursday morning, Minister Harris stated: 

“I wanted to provide you with a brief update on UHL and particularly recent calls for a review. As you may know, the issue of an independent review of University Hospital Limerick (UHL) was discussed at a meeting I had with the co-Chairs of the Emergency Department Taskforce on 4 April. At this meeting, I requested the HSE to examine the proposal.

“The HSE have since advised that, with the specific input of the Special Delivery Unit, it is currently undertaking a review of performance across all Hospital Groups and Community Health Organisations (CHO’s) over the winter period. This review will now include an independent expert review and analysis of ED activity and relative performance of sites. This review will have a particular emphasis on the nine focus sites, will begin with the UHL Group and CHO Mid West and be led by independent clinical, analytical and management expertise.

“Senior officials in my Department are currently finalising details of this enhanced expert review with the HSE and I will update you further shortly.”

Welcoming the news, Fine Gael TD Tom Neville said that he had met with other TDs and the INMO to discuss UHL’s challenges. 

“I expressed this to Minister Harris after this meeting, and I welcome the fact now that he has acted upon delivering an independent review. I look forward to all parties cooperating with this review and inputting into this review. I look forward to the outcome and the results of it because, from speaking to the public, hearing the stories, changes need to be made ASAP. But we obviously have to make the right changes and this is coupled along with the advancement of the 60-bed modular unit on the back of a 96-bed permanent unit, so the resources are now coming to the hospital and are needed.”

Sen Kieran O'Donnell also welcomed the news this morning. 

"This is about looking at the particular situation. An independent expert review is being done nationally, but Limerick and the University Hospital Limerick is prioritised first to be done. The reason for that is that he [Minister Harris] fully understands the pressures here in bed capacity and we want everything that can be possibly done to ensure that we deal with the matter as quickly and, I suppose, a more efficient way as possible."

There were 1,206 patients on a trolley in April at UHL, the worst ever recorded April in national overcrowding since records began in 2006.