Fire service made five inspections at University Hospital Limerick amid overcrowding concerns

Fire service made five inspections at University Hospital Limerick amid overcrowding concerns

 University Hospital Limerick was the most overcrowded hospital in the country yesterday.

The fire service has conducted five inspections at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) since a "major internal incident" of overcrowding was declared a month ago.

And now, a month on from the declaration of the incident on January 2, patient trolley numbers at UHL have returned to "high-risk levels". It was the most overcrowded hospital in the country yesterday.

There were 82 patients on trolleys in the hospital’s Emergency Department  (31) and wards (51) on Wednesday, according to figures published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

The five inspections of the hospital's ED, units, and wards were conducted to mitigate any potential risk to patent safety, as part of the fire service’s duty of care to members of the public.

A statement issued by the UL Hospitals Group said the major internal incident issued in early January has been stood down, but that UHL remains "in a state of high risk in terms of the potential for presentations through the Emergency Department to exceed our capacity for optimal care".

A “significantly high” number of 222 patients presented at UHL on Tuesday and the hospital continues to mitigate pressure with “additional ward rounds, accelerated discharges of inpatients, and identification of patients for transfer to Ennis, Nenagh, and St John’s hospitals”.

It said its “supply of trolleys for transfer of patients from ambulances presenting was sufficient to meet the level of demand throughout the day”.

The group said it was “managing high numbers of inpatients through surge capacity” in its Nenagh and Ennis hospitals which “has required cancellation of day surgery on those sites up to this week”.

Nenagh surgeries

Limited resumption of day surgery in Nenagh recommenced on Tuesday “and it is planned that Ennis will follow later in the week”.

“Despite all these measures, our services remain under pressure and our advice to the public remains to consider all healthcare options before attending our ED. Patients who are seriously injured or unwell or who are worried their life is in danger must dial 112/999 or attend the ED.” 

Details of the five recent fire inspections have been sought from the Council but were not available.

Some UHL sources voiced concerns about protocols introduced on January 9 and February 7, whereby paramedics can bring non-urgent 999/112 patients to Medical Assessment Units (MAUs) at Ennis and Nenagh, which would not solve UHL’s overcrowding crisis.

A second UL Hospitals Group spokesman acknowledged there had been a recent “increase” in presentations in its MAUs in Ennis (eight spaces in total) Nenagh (seven) and St Johns, Limerick (seven).

“The three MAUs at Ennis, Nenagh, and St John’s saw 12,737 patients in 2022, the highest number of attendances to date and an increase of 19% on 2021,” the spokesman said.

However, he added: “The introduction of the new ambulance pathway in our medical assessment units does not require an expansion in physical capacity."

Mary Fogarty, INMO assistant director for industrial relations in Limerick, said the union raised concerns about the issues at the hospital.

“Additional bed capacity is required urgently, as are a greater level of discharges at weekends, and greater availability of senior decision-makers on site - they are the people who decide whether somebody is admitted or discharged so they need to be there for greater periods of the day and night,” added Ms Fogarty.

More in this section

Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

logo podcast

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on

IE logo

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence

Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd