MINISTER FOR Health Dr James Reilly has pledged more staff will be allocated to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital after scores of operations, diagnostic tests and other medical appointments had to be postponed last week.
Nurses for the second time in weeks called for major disaster protocols to be implemented at Dooradoyle as overcrowding peaked on Wednesday.
And Fianna Fail health spokesman Billy Kelleher has condemned as ineffectual measures taken by Minister Reilly - through the special delivery unit of his department - last year to deal with chronic overcrowding in Limerick.
“Staff at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital have already been forced to take to the picket line to voice their concerns about the dangerous levels of overcrowding,” said Deputy Kelleher.
“Minister Reilly cannot let the current situation escalate further. I am appealing to him to engage with the HSE and hospital management as a matter of urgency to find long-term solutions to what has become a long-term problem at the hospital.”
Dr Reilly acknowledged that despite the implemented recommendations of the special delivery unit, there were still “problems in Limerick”.
“That is why we took action there and we put in an excellent new manager and she will be getting more support in terms of additional staff to help her with the serious challenge she faces,” Dr Reilly said.
The Department of Health was unable to clarify at the time of going to press whether this extra staffing would come in the shape of front-line health professionals.
This is something the INMO has been continually calling for, saying there are not enough staff in Dooradoyle at present to safely care for patients.
“As the INMO trolley watch figures demonstrate, the hospital endures chronic overcrowding in the emergency department and up to 50 additional patients are on the corridors and in annexes of the hospital daily, awaiting a designated bed. Safe and proper care cannot be given to patients while they are placed in undesignated in-patient areas and while there is inadequate staffing to provide a safe level of care,” said a union spokesperson.
A further 11 elective surgical procedures had to be postponed on Friday after 21 operations had been cancelled on Thursday as well as four diagnostic tests and over 40 outpatient appointments.
The HSE has urged people to consult their GPs before visiting the emergency department.