Mid West 'must have new elective hospital' to meet needs of patients

Specialist team tasked with tackling record Limerick trolley figures meets management 
Mid West 'must have new elective hospital' to meet needs of patients

Despite a decline in numbers over recent days, there were still 62 people waiting on trolleys at University Hospital Limerick on Friday. Picture: Dan Linehan

The specialist team ordered into University Hospital Limerick to tackle its record high trolley figures has held its first meeting with members of the UL Hospitals Group (ULHG) Executive today. 

Afterwards, a spokesperson for ULHG said that it is its belief that the Mid West region must have a new elective hospital in order to meet the needs of its patients.

Last month, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) revealed there were 126 patients waiting on trolleys in a single day, a record number since the union began tracking the figures in 2006.

That led Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to write to HSE chief executive Paul Reid, telling him to send in an expert team to urgently establish what additional resources might be deployed, as well as any changes that could be made quickly to alleviate the pressures on the hospital. 

While the department said this evening that this team is still being finalised and it expects work to start soon, the spokesperson for ULHG said it actually met with the team today. The spokesperson said: 

“We discussed a long-term and a short-term plan, which will be a collaborative piece of work between the HSE specialists, ULHG, and HSE Mid West Community Healthcare.

Despite a decline in the number over recent days, there were still 62 people waiting on trolleys at the hospital today.

In response to the high figures, the Mid-West Hospital Campaign is to hold a number of protests across the region, the first of which takes place on Saturday outside the old Debenhams building on O'Connell St from 1pm.

One of the protest organisers, Noeleen Mora, said they are calling for the reopening of the Ennis, Nenagh, and St John's emergency departments and the upgrading of these hospitals to model 3 status.

Concerns have also been raised regarding lengthy waiting times at UHL. Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan revealed through a parliamentary question, that in 2021, 8,720 patients waited more than 12 hours in the emergency department (ED) to be admitted or discharged.

A spokesperson for ULHG said that this is something they “deeply regret". The spokesperson said:

“We are doing everything we can to ensure that wait times are minimised.

According to UHL, attendances at ED continue to be significantly high. “From the beginning of this week, up to 8am this morning, there have been 237 average daily presentations at the department,” they added.

They said ULHG has the lowest inpatient bed capacity when benchmarked per population against other model 4 hospitals, and to bring the group in line with the national average would require an additional 200 inpatient beds.

“However, even prior to the pandemic and the opening of the 60-bed block at UHL, we at all times said that additional beds would only begin to meet the historic shortage of inpatient bed capacity in the Mid West,” the spokesperson said.

“It is our belief that the Mid West region must have a new elective hospital in order to meet the needs of patients in the Mid West,” they added.

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