WATCH: Taoiseach responds in Dail to TDs' concerns over Limerick's overcrowding crisis

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

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Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has responded in the Dail to concerns expressed by TDs over Limerick's overcrowding crisis this week. 

This Monday saw UHL set a new record for highest level of overcrowding in a single day, with 85 patients on trolleys. 

This was the third time in a number of months that UHL set a new record. 

This follows the announcement that UHL is to install a new, temporary MRI machine which will cost €800,000 per year for two years, with the option of extending the service for an additional two years. 

It is expected to be operational by mid-December, a spokesperson for the UL Hospitals Group said. 

Deputy Tom Neville asked his party leader for an update on the independent review into UHL, which is being led by an NHS expert. 

"I previously tabled a question in relation to an independent review that has been carried out in UHL in relation to work process and management process. I am asking now that the Government would expedite this report and results of this result and implement them as soon as possible, given what is happening," he said. 

He also called for the new MRI machine to be staff-ready when the service becomes available. 

Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan said that the overcrowding at UHL was "beyond a joke at this stage. It's an absolute nightmare for people. We've had 13,000 people this year already on trolleys". 

He said that they met officials with the HSE who informed deputies that the new MRI machine would be operational in mid-December and that it would only be operating 9am to 5pm. He said this was "concerning". 

He asked the Taoiseach to "personally intervene" to ensure that there are "longer hours". 

"People deserve better," he said. 

Challenged by Fianna Fail party leader, Micheal Martin, earlier that day, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that he acknowledged the pressure facing emergency departments across the country. 

In response to Deputy Neville's and Deputy Quinlivan's questions, he said that €10m had been allocated to the €19.5m 60-bed block at UHL this year. This facility is set to be in operation by the end of 2020. 

The Taoiseach said that the project "will go someway towards dealing with the acknowledged lack of bed capacity in the region".