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18 Aug 2022

WATCH: Minister for Health responds to claims patients were 'moved' ahead of visit to Limerick hospital

THE Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, has described as 'false' claims that patients were "moved out" of the emergency department at University Hospital Limerick ahead of his scheduled visit earlier today.

The minister was speaking after he met with management, staff and patients following visits to both UHL in Dooradoyle and Croom Orthopaedic Hospital.

The Limerick Leader received a number of uncorroborated reports of trolleys being moved to other parts of UHL in advance of the visit while Senator Paul Gavan made similar claims in the Seanad.

However, Minister Donnelly says management and staff at UHL received less than ten minutes notice before his arrival on Wednesday night and that he saw no evidence of patients having been moved elsewhere in the hospital.

"I think it's a very unfair allegation to make. I met the nurses last night, the hospital porters last night, the registrar's who were in the emergency department and I will tell you they were under so much pressure that they didn't have time to be trying to find other places to put patients," he said.

"I spoke to a lot of people (during the visit) and the reality is there were a lot of patients who had been admitted who didn't have a bed and who were on trolleys - they shouldn't be, they don't want be there, it's not not fair on them and it's not fair on the people working in the emergency department either so I can assure you that given eight or nine minutes notice of me walking into the hospital there was no nobody doing any such thing," he added.

Following his visit to University Hospital Limerick the minister accepted that additional resources are needed to deal with issues such as overcrowding at UHL. 

He praised the efforts and commitment of healthcare workers at the hospital adding that they are exhausted and stressed.

"It's very clear to me that, in Limerick, one of the things we need is more healthcare professionals. We need more nurses, we need more allied health professionals, we need more junior doctors, nchds - we need more specialists," he  said.

"One of the things I will be doing is having that conversation with the Department of Health, with the senior team in the HSE and looking to see how we can build capacity in our public health service in Limerick very very quickly,"  he added.

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