A LIMERICK HOSPITAL is asking the public only to attend its emergency department in cases of urgent need, as it struggles with an overcrowding crisis.
Authorities at the Mid Western Regional Hospital this morning repeated their call for patients to attend their GPs in all but the most serious cases.
More than 20 operations and dozens of appointments had to be cancelled yesterday as staff struggled to cope.
Meanwhile nurses and midwives working in the facility have warned that they will consider industrial action unless steps are taken to address the overcrowding.
This morning’s renewed call comes in the wake of a “sudden surge” in emergency attendances last night, which led to “unprecedented” demand for patient beds, the hospital said. At one stage 36 patients were waiting on trolleys.
This number has now been reduced to four. However, a statement from the hospital said: “The hospital is operating at full capacity and all overflow areas are fully in use.”
Doctors have “not been able so far to ascribe any single explanation to yesterday’s surge,” the statement added.
Nursing staff at the hospital have said that their working conditions are not acceptable. Up to 50 patients are left in the hospital’s corridors and annexes on a daily basis waiting for beds, a statement from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said.
It said the “privacy and dignity” of patients was at stake, as well as the quality of care nurses could offer. The statement added:
Safe and proper care cannot be given to patients while they are placed in undesignated in-patient areas and while there is inadequate staffing to provide a safe level of care.
The INMO has called for an emergency meeting with HSE management over facilities in the area. It said that on Wednesday evening at Ennis General Hospital, a ward with 22 acutely ill patients had just one nurse on duty to deliver care.