MANAGEMENT at the region’s main hospital, University Hospital Limerick (UHL), have issued a ‘sincere apology’ following significant levels of overcrowding this week.
The statement follows a busy period at UHL’s emergency department which has seen a total of 365 patients await a hospital bed on trolleys throughout the Dooradoyle-based facility from Monday, July 8 until Friday, July 12.
“UL Hospitals Group would like to sincerely apologise to patients facing long waits in our Emergency Department (ED) during busy periods, and for any distress or inconvenience this is causing to patients and their loved ones,” said a spokesperson for the group.
The latest trolley figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) show that a total of 81 patients were on trolleys yesterday, Thursday, July 11, with a further 75 people being forced to wait for a hospital bed today, Friday, July 12.
Following the joint-highest figure recorded for any single hospital in a day, which saw 81 patients waiting for beds at UHL yesterday morning, calls have been made for a major emergency plan to be put in place in the hospital to cope with the ‘crisis’.
Speaking to The Clare People following the latest surge in overcrowding figures, Limerick-based INMO Industrial Relations Officer, Mary Fogarty stated her belief that UHL does not have enough capacity for the number of patients who present themselves to the region’s only 24-hour emergency department on a regular basis.
“Our frontline members tell us that clinical care is seriously compromised by the sheer volume of patients on trolleys, chairs and in corridors,” she said.
“A firm response is required urgently to ensure patient and staff safety.
“This is a hospital in clear crisis. 81 patients on trolleys is the equivalent of three full wards.
“Nurses expect additional strain on the health service in winter, but in mid-July, UHL is in crisis mode,” added Ms Fogarty.
“The ED at UHL continues to be one of the busiest in the country. There has been a surge in presentations to emergency departments this week,” added a UL Hospitals Group spokesperson.
“We have been working hard to progress patients through the system to discharge, so that we can free up beds for the patients in the ED who are awaiting admission.
“Surgery at UHL has been curtailed over the last number of days to enable us to use that bed capacity for patients in the ED.
“Access to transitional care and home care package funding has been reduced over the past two weeks, which has led to an increase in delayed discharges.
“However, we continue to work with our community colleagues to progress the transition of appropriate patients to the community where possible.
“UHL is providing full care to all patients who are waiting in the emergency department. The enhanced infrastructures of the new ED enable us to accommodate a number of these patients in single rooms while in the department.
“We are maximising the use of the beds available across the group, and we have been moving patients on a daily basis to these sites.
“UL Hospitals Group is appealing to members of the public to use the emergency department for emergencies only, and consider all care options before attending the ED at UHL. People should attend their GPs, or out of hours GP service, in the first instance, and they can be referred to an Assessment Unit the following day if required.
“Local Injury Units are open in Ennis and Nenagh hospitals from 8am-8pm every day, and in St John’s, 8am-6pm Monday to Friday. However, if you are seriously injured or ill or are worried your life is at risk, please attend the ED, where you will be prioritised.”