A leading clinical director believes a second emergency department would be beneficial for the Mid-West region in the wake of claims that University Hospital Limerick is in “chaos”.
There are 36 patients on trolleys in the hospital’s emergency department yesterday — the highest figure in any public acute hospital in the country. The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation says it has repeatedly raised very serious concerns with local management in respect to patient safety and the impact that working in such an environment is having on nurses.
According to the nursing union’s trolley watch, the number of patients on trolleys at the hospital increased from 19 on Thursday to 36 yesterday — 13 more than Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, the acute hospital with the second highest number of patients on trolleys.
Stating that a model three hospital was required in the region, INMO representative Mary Fogarty said at least 20 extra in-patients beds were needed in the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Ennis, St John’s Hospital in Limerick, and the Mid- Western Regional Hospital in Nenagh following cuts of 60 beds from the hospitals in recent years.
“The INMO calls on the HSE and Government to prioritise the urgent and immediate recruitment of nurses and for an independent review of the reconfiguration of acute hospital services in the Mid-West,” she said.
“The current situation is totally unacceptable, cannot be allowed to continue and must be addressed, in the interests of patients, their safety and the overworked staff striving to provide safe care.”
The Mid-West currently has one model four hospital — a university teaching hospital with a high-level intensive care unit at UHL — three model two hospitals in Ennis, Nenagh, and St John’s Limerick, where selected, medical in-patient, medical assessment and a local injuries unit are provided; as well as Croom Orthopaedic and the University Maternity Hospital, Limerick.
However, it is the only region in the country which does not have a model three hospital to treat un-differentiated acute medical and surgical patients, as well as an emergency department and intensive care unit.
UL Hospital’s clinical director, Pierce Grace, believes it would be desirable to have a model three hospital in the UL Hospitals group. “There are capacity issues at University Hospital Limerick.
Prof Grace said the Mid-West does not meet the population criteria for a second emergency department at present.
However, the chief clinical director admitted that Health Minister James Reilly could decide that a second emergency department or model three hospital was necessary in the Mid-West by looking at other factors such as population dispersal.