FORTY-TWO patients were again waiting for a bed in the University Hospital in Limerick today - the highest number in the country for a second time this week.
Over 170 patients have been waiting for a bed to date this week in UHL, as the level of over-crowding is again reaching crisis conditions.
Forty-two were waiting on trolleys and in wards for a bed this Thursday, 46 were left waiting on Wednesday, while 54 people were without a bed on Tuesday (the highest level in the country) and 39 people were waiting on Monday, according to the figures, released daily by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.
Responding to this, the UL Hospital Group in a statement said they have seen an increase in patients waiting in their emergency department at University Hospital Limerick (UHL), due to a high volume of patients presenting to this department, and they have also seen an increase in the prevalence of the flu virus.
“The contingency plan put in place to deal with overcrowding in the emergency department at UHL has been enacted; this is to assist in reducing numbers in the emergency department to the targeted thresholds.
“All available beds are open across the group and where possible patients are being transferred from UHL to Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s for ongoing treatment. “Ward rounds are taking place to discharge patients who have completed their care and we continue to work with our colleagues in the community to focus on reducing the number of delayed discharges.
“These actions have resulted in a significant reduction in patients waiting in the emergency department today, however numbers still remain above what we would like. The UL Hospital Group will continue to keep the situation under review with a view to reducing the number of patients waiting in the emergency department further.
Fianna Fail deputy Willie O’Dea has expressed concern at the dramatic rise in the number of people waiting on trolleys in the hospital.
“Once again, we see the situation in University Hospital Limerick’s emergency department reaching critical levels.
“Despite having predicted a worsening of the situation, Minister Leo Varadkar’s response has been unbelievably muted. The Emergency Department Taskforce has only held three meetings to date, despite the escalating crisis.
“Any measures which were being considered when the crisis had reached its peak in early January appear to have stalled, and now the trolley figures are on the rise once again.
“The simple fact of the matter is there are not enough step-down beds, hospital beds and frontline medical staff to treat the increased number of patients creating an intolerable risk to patient safety.
“Additional resources must be allocated without delay if this situation is to be contained and managed effectively. If these measures are not forthcoming, the appalling situation facing patients in University Hospital Limerick’s Emergency Department will continue to get worse”.