Newly built 35-bed unit lying idle in Limerick

A 35-bed newly built emergency department next to University Hospital Limerick is lying idle as 40 patients were on trolleys in the hospital’s old A&E unit.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar was yesterday urged to fast track the opening of the unit by one of his own party colleagues.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell described the present situation at UHL as “unacceptable”.

Yesterday afternoon 40 patients were lying on trolleys in the hospital’s A&E.

There are only 17 A&E beds at UHL catering for the entire mid-west region.

This figure is down from 35 after 18 beds in A&E units at St John’s Hospital in Limerick, Ennis and Nenagh were closed.

Limerick TD Kieran O’Donnell said he has spoken to Leo Varadkar asking him to “fast track” the 35-bed A&E facility at UHL which is already built, but has not yet been fitted with equipment.

“You can’t have a situation where you have 41 people on trolleys yesterday and 40 on the trolleys today; that’s not sustainable. We cannot have over half of reduction (of beds) and for there to be not consequences,” he added.

Mr O’Donnell said money should be taken from the Government’s coffers which he said were €1.4bn in the black, to ease the pressure on A&E departments.

“One of those areas the public would like to see (investment) is that some of this money would be put into resourcing A&Es and more specifically to alleviate the pressure on the existing A&E in Limerick until the new A&E is up and running.”

“There is a cabinet meeting tomorrow that will be dealing with this, and I have had prolonged discussions with both Minister Varadkar and his advisers as late as this morning, to impress upon them, that it would be unacceptable if Limerick doesn’t get additional resources.”

Paying tribute to the staff at UHL, Deputy O’Donnell said: “I think the staff have done a fantastic job under very difficult circumstances. We need to put the resources in place, ideally to put in bed capacity and staffing.”

He added there is a medical assessment unit (in UHL), which is situated off the hospital’s A&E for non emergency patients, which could be used to cater for 20 A&E beds.

“That needs to be properly resourced and would provide 20 beds alongside the existing 17 in A&E. That should be up and running until the new state-of-the-art A&E is open,” the Limerick TD said.

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