'Incredible level of overcrowding': 1,003 patients on trolleys at University Hospital Limerick

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Email:

fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

'Incredible level of overcrowding': 1,003 patients on trolleys at University Hospital Limerick

University Hospital Limerick.

UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick had the highest rate of patients on trolleys in the country during the worst ever month for overcrowding, new figures show.

According to a monthly report by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, there were 1,003 patients being treated on emergency department trolleys and extra trolleys or beds in the wards at UHL in January.

This is a 26% increase on overcrowding in January 2017 when there were 793 patients on trolleys at the Dooradoyle hospital.

The lowest ever rate of January overcrowding was in 2008, when there were just 118 patients being treated on trolleys at UHL.

The second highest rate of overcrowding in January was at Cork University Hospital with 832 patients on trolleys, followed by University Hospital Galway with 681 patients.

UHL represented less than 10% of overcrowding in the whole country, with a national figure of 12,201 patients on trolleys.

In response to the monthly overcrowding figures, INMO general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said: “This is an incredible level of overcrowding and the appalling conditions experienced in emergency departments are now beyond anything we have ever seen. It now amounts to a humanitarian crisis for patients and a risk rich environment for those trying to work in such chaotic conditions.”

A spokesperson for the UL Hospitals Group said that it apologises for “any distress or inconvenience caused to patients or their loved ones who have experienced long wait times in the ED at UHL.

“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,” she told the Limerick Leader.

Asked if flu season impacted on overcrowding, she said: “New flu cases are presenting on a daily basis and there are currently 15 confirmed cases of flu at UHL. Patients who present with flu like symptoms have to be isolated while we await the outcome of flu swabs.  As a result, appropriate isolation accommodation has to be provided for both the confirmed and unconfirmed cases. Visiting restrictions remain in place, all infection control measures are being adhered to.”

To alleviate overcrowding, there is a bid for a new 96-bed block on the campus.

"UHL has approximately 400 inpatient beds and this is recognised as not being sufficient for the needs of the Mid-West Region. We welcome the recent publication of the Bed Capacity Review which seeks to address capacity issues in the system.  A bid to build an additional 96-bed block on the UHL site has been submitted to the Department of Health and approval has been granted for funding of the design stage of the build."