Major protests over hospital overcrowding

University Hospital Limerick’s chronic overcrowding and University Hospital Waterford’s lack of cardiac care services will be the focus of major protests this weekend.

Major protests over hospital overcrowding

On Saturday, a march organised by Donal O’Brien, a voluntary worker at UHL’s emergency department, will proceed from the hospital gates at midday. The hospital’s emergency department had the highest trolley numbers in the country during last week’s pile-up and yesterday it remained one of the worst affected.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation’s trolley watch showed there were 33 admitted patients in UHL and 28 in UHW awaiting a bed yesterday.

Overcrowding reached a record high of 612 last week. The INMO’s latest Trolley and Ward Watch report put the figure at 466.

Mr O’Brien said it was time people showed they had had enough of UHL’s trolley crisis and that non-accountability was the problem.

“We can blame the minister for the whole lot, and the buck stops with him, but we all have to take a share of this blame: doctors, nurses, management and the public,” he said.

While the new €18m emergency department is expected to alleviate pressure when it opens in May, it will not reduce trolley figures.

UHL’s chief clinical director surgeon Paul Burke said the hospital needed more beds to get people off trolleys quicker.

Dr Burke said the hospital would have to increase its bed capacity from 400 to 550 over the next five years.

Meanwhile, people in the south-east will gather in Waterford City on Saturday to highlight the need for a second cardiac catheter laboratory at UHW.

A march organised by the South East Patient Advocacy Group will start at 2pm at Ballybricken in Waterford.

“We need this service. We demand this service. Our lives are being put at risk every single day by this government,” said group founder, Hilary O’Neill.

Junior Minister John Halligan said Waterford cardiologists had recommended establishing a mobile laboratory in addition to the hospital’s day cardiac laboratory.

The consultants told Mr Halligan the HSE would soon realise the need for a permanent second laboratory.

However, Ms O’Neill said the mobile laboratory was an attempt to “fudge” the issue and said no half measures or sticking plasters would be acceptable.

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