07 Jul 2022

Health minister vows 'all necessary resources' will be committed to University Hospital Limerick 'without delay'

UHL had the worst level of overcrowding in 2017 in Ireland with 8,889 patients being treated on trolleys at ED

The ED at University Hospital Limerick which was the focus of a HIQA report

THE MINISTER for Health, Stephen Donnelly, has vowed that “all necessary, immediate resources will be committed to ensure safe and appropriate levels of care are restored" at University Hospital Limerick “without delay”.

A detailed plan is to be “urgently developed to ensure that they do not reoccur”. 

The health minister today met with senior officials from his own department, and from the HSE, to discuss immediate responses to the pressures currently being faced by the 29 emergency departments across the country including Limerick.

Those discussions included a specific engagement around the ED at University Hospital Limerick in the context of the particular pressures being experienced by that hospital, and the recent reports by both HIQA and a HSE Expert Team which were recently deployed to Limerick at the minister’s request.

The officials involved in today’s discussions included that Expert Team.

In a statement issued on behalf of Mr Donnelly this Wednesday evening he said he was pleased to learn that as a result of the intervention he requested, and the recent HIQA report, the Chief Operations Officer of the HSE, Anne O'Connor, has now written to both the CEO of University of Limerick Hospital Group, Colette Cowan, and the Chief Officer of Mid-West Community Healthcare, Maria Bridgeman, informing them that she has mandated the Performance Management Improvement Unit (PMIU) of the HSE to engage urgently with the Hospital Group and the CHO under the HSE’s Performance Accountability Framework.

“The PMIU will provide intensive support to both hospital and community teams to ensure that the issues identified in the recent assessment, and the HIQA report, are addressed as a matter of urgency,” the statement reads.

“While recognising that the programme of investment in hospital and community capacity in the region is ongoing, the PMIU will ensure that all necessary immediate steps are taken to address the safety issues identified, including chronic overcrowding. A detailed plan will be urgently developed to ensure that they do not reoccur. Such planning will include issues including; admission avoidance, pre admissions, community interventions and alternative pathways as well as issues regarding patient flow through the hospital and ED,” the statement continues.

Minister Donnelly welcomed this action and made clear “that all necessary, immediate resources will be committed to ensure safe and appropriate levels of care are restored in Limerick without delay”.

A statement issued by the HSE this Wednesday evening stated: "The establishment of the new group follows a review of unscheduled care at UHL carried out by HSE personnel in May and June. The team is similar to teams that have recently supported services in both Cork University Hospital and Kerry General Hospital.

"The HSE’s Performance Monitoring and Improvement Unit (PMIU) will lead this process, in partnership with UHL team members, supporting the hospital and community services in driving a programme of work to respond more effectively to the current pressures. This intervention will be based on 'the five fundamentals framework' which is specifically designed to support unscheduled care improvement across all emergency departments."

The HSE team will be onsite for a period of 4-6 weeks.

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