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19 Aug 2022

WATCH: Limerick TD calls for public enquiry into management at University Hospital Limerick

A LIMERICK TD has called for a public inquiry into the handling of complaints by management at University Hospital Limerick.

Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday night,  Deputy Richard O'Donoghue strongly criticised management at the UL Hospitals Group claiming that some complaints have not received proper attention.

"Patients have raised concerns and staff members have brought concerns to hospital management without officially reporting the incidents for fear of the impact it might have on their careers. These concerns are often ignored and buried without following protocol. Some of these incidents have led to serious injury and the deaths of patients," he said.

The independent TD, who specifically highlighted the death of a young woman at UHL, further alleged that whistleblowers are being "silenced" by management.

"They are worn down until they sign non-disclosure agreements. How many protected disclosures are investigated properly? If proper procedures had been followed by University Hospital Limerick management, it would not be in the catastrophic state it is in because the State authorities would have been alerted much earlier to the dangers to the public in the accident and emergency department and the six hospitals under the management of the hospital group. I am asking for a public inquiry into the number of incidents recorded in University Hospital Limerick that have not been reported nationally," he stated during the Topical issues debate.

In reply, Deputy Frank Feighan, Minister of State at the Department of Health, said the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly personally visited UHL earlier this year and that the HSE recently directed that an expert team "review the day-to-day functioning of the emergency department in University Hospital Limerick in a leadership, management, operational and clinical context."

Mr Feighan added that UL Hospitals has also recently commissioned external consultants to review and advise it on unscheduled care and patient flows at UHL.

"I assure the Deputy that the work under way to address the issues that University Hospital Limerick faces, including those highlighted by HIQA's report, will make a significant difference to patient experience at University Hospital Limerick. The Department of Health continues to work closely with the HSE to ensure University Hospital Limerick is fully supported and that the recommendations of the expert review team are actioned in a timely manner," he stated.

Deputy Feighan told the independent Limerick TD he would bring his comments regarding management at ULHG to the attention of Minister Donnelly.

"University Hospital Limerick management has a duty of care to the public. It should be made accountable, criminally accountable if necessary," commented Deputy O'Donoghue.

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