UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick has urged the public to consider all care options before attending the emergency department, as it endures near-record levels of overcrowding this Wednesday.
According to figures published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, there are 78 patients being treated on trolleys in the emergency department and the wards.
This is the highest level of overcrowding in the country, and just three patients short of meeting the national record of the number of patients on trolleys.
In April this year, UHL set a new record with 81 patients being treated on trolleys.
The UL Hospitals Group has said that this high level of overcrowding follows a "busy weekend" and a delay in discharges across the hospital group.
Approximately four beds at UHL are currently closed due to infection prevention and control reasons.
In an appeal to the public, the UL Hospitals Group said it is "appealing to members of the public to consider all their care options before presenting to the Emergency Department at UHL today (Wednesday).
"The hospital is currently managing high volumes of patients that have arisen due to a busy weekend in the ED, and an increased number of delayed discharges across the Group."
There were 232 emergency department attendances between Tuesday 8am and Wednesday 8am.
"We apologise for any 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. We also acknowledge the work of our staff and thank them for their continued dedication and commitment to patient care.
"We are urging people to please consider all their care options at this time and not to attend the Emergency Department unless absolutely necessary. It is important that we keep the ED for emergencies only and we encourage the public to do so.
"Injury Units in St John’s, Ennis and Nenagh hospitals are open for appropriate injuries. Injury Units treat broken bones, dislocations, sprains, strains, wounds, scalds and minor burns and save long waiting times. Injury Units are open in Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals from 8am to 8pm every day 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."