WATCH: Taoiseach reacts to University Hospital Limerick's trolley crisis in the Dail

THE TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has reacted to University Hospital Limerick’s record-breaking trolley figures in the Dail this Wednesday afternoon.

According to figures published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, there were 81 patients being treated on trolleys in the emergency department and the wards at UHL this Wednesday morning.

This is the highest ever number of patients on trolleys since records began in 2006. UHL previously set the record on March 22, 2013, when there were 80 patients on trolleys.

Fianna Fail TD Willie O’Dea questioned the Taoiseach, who was a former Health Minister, on UHL’s trolley figures during the Leader’s Questions.

“Is the Taoiseach aware that in the University Hospital Limerick this morning, there were 81 people languishing on trolleys? Fifty-two in the emergency department and 29 elsewhere.

“Now, this is in the context of a 17-bed ward being closed last week,” Deputy O’Dea said.

He asked the Taoiseach when the Patient Safety Bill will be introduced and if it will “put an end or outlaw the cavalier attitude towards patients’ health, welfare and safety that is presently being demonstrated by the authorities in University Hospital Limerick?”

The Taoiseach said that the Patient Safety Bill, which includes mandatory open disclosure for serious patient safety issues, is on the “A-list” for publication over the next 12 weeks.

“I am aware of the long-standing problem of overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick. I don’t know the details of the 17-bed ward or why it is being closed, but I do know that 60 additional beds are being provided at Limerick and that work is now underway.”

He added: “You will be aware that while things deteriorated over the last two to three weeks so far this year, the number of patients who have to spend time on a trolley is at a five-year low.”

He said there are 3,000 fewer patients on trolleys than previous years.

“We are making progress. But evidence does show that just providing additional beds on its own isn’t enough, and you will be aware that Limerick has a new emergency department, a new block with the Leben building, and I actually hope that the 60 beds that are being provided will make a difference.”

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