Limerick hospital infrastructure 'not fit for purpose' finds scathing report

A consultancy group has said the hospital needs 302 extra inpatient beds and 63 more day-case beds to meet rising demand in the Mid-West.
Limerick hospital infrastructure 'not fit for purpose' finds scathing report

Admissions to UHL increased by 20%, which led to occupancy rates above the internationally accepted safe rate of 85%, even during 2019.

Buildings on the University Hospital Limerick (UHL) site are “not fit for purpose” and the hospital needs 665 extra beds by 2036 because it simply does not have enough room, a stark new report has found.

Consultancy group Deloitte said the hospital needs 302 extra inpatient beds and 63 more day-case beds to meet rising demand in the Mid-West.

They found the emergency department treated 5,000 more people last year than 2019 and pointed to deficiencies in physical space and staffing.

The overcrowding is so acute that elective care was reduced by 4% between 2019 and 2021, meaning people missed out on vital operations. 

The Deloitte UL Hospitals Group Patient Flow Report says bluntly of buildings at the main site: “the infrastructure on the UHL site is not fit for purpose and requires replacement.”

Admissions to UHL increased by 20%, which led to occupancy rates above the internationally accepted safe rate of 85%, even during 2019.

“In 2021, bed occupancy was similar in UHL at 105%, 96% in Ennis, and 84% in Nenagh,” it states.

Deloitte’s analysis shows recently opened new units are not sufficient, despite a new 96-bed block being constructed this month.

Injury units in smaller hospitals are also busier, with St John’s treating 1,300 more people, Ennis 905 extra, and Nenagh 1,600 more than in 2019.

The report states UL Hospital Group has the lowest staff numbers of all groups.

CEO Professor Colette Cowan said last year 574 theatre lists were cancelled with patients outsourced to private centres. She said:

This reliance on outsourcing is not sustainable in the long run however as it requires patients to travel outside the region and comes at a significant cost.” 

“This report strengthens the case for an elective hospital in the Mid-West.” 

Independent councillor for Nenagh Seamus Morris said: “We were promised 642 beds in 2008, and 13 years later we are only at 530. Now they’re promising more beds by 2036. There’s been under-investment across the Mid-West.”

Midwest Hospital Campaign spokeswoman Noeleen Moran said: “What I would take from this report is there is a need to reopen emergency departments in Ennis, Nenagh, and St John’s and the beds which were closed originally in those hospitals to be reinstated.”

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