It has emerged that, on Wednesday, Limerick City Fire and Rescue Service received a phone call from an individual concerned about overcrowding at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick.
The fire authority has now requested that the HSE carry out a risk assessment of operationsat the hospital by Apr 5.
It is understood the fire service received the tip-off from a consultant working at the hospital.
A statement from Limerick County Council yesterday read: “Limerick County Council, as the fire authority for the Mid-West Regional Hospital in Limerick, has carried out an inspection of the A&E department... on receipt of a complaint of alleged overcrowding at the facility.
“The fire authority has been in contact with senior HSE personnel at the Mid-West Regional Hospital requesting that a risk-based assessment be carried out in the A&E department...”
The risk assessment must be completed no later than Apr 5, the council said.
The hospital’s emergency department has been under severe pressure in recent years.
It now sustains emergency cases from Clare and Tipperary after 8pm, and is therefore the only emergency department in the Mid-West between 8pm and 8am. Nurses have said the unit has been stretched beyond manageable and safe parameters.
When contacted about the issue the HSE said in a statement: “Wednesday was an exceptionally busy time with a large surge in demand at the emergency department following the bank holiday weekend. In this, we were much the same as every other major hospital in the country.
“We’re carrying out the risk assessment... and examining all hospital processes, to try and ease the pressures on the emergency department.
“A new emergency department is being built in Door-adoyle [on the grounds of the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick] and is expected to be built in two years time.”
A source working within the HSE in Limerick said ambulance crews were being delayed because of overcrowding at the emergency department.
“The ambulance crews are going up to A&E and are being delayed constantly. When patients are brought into casualty by the ambulance crews, they are delayed because they have to wait for a doctor or a nurse to hand over the patient to them.”
According to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, there were 32 patients on trolleys in the hospital on Wednesday.