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'Something has to give': INMO asks Health Minister to intervene at overcrowded Limerick hospital

Members say that UHL had 52 patients on trolleys this morning, despite gaining more than 110 new beds since January.

University Hospital Limerick.
University Hospital Limerick.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Images

THE IRISH NURSES and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has called for ministerial intervention at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) due to overcrowding. 

The union said that more trolleys have been placed on wards and corridors in the hospital in recent days as overcrowding continues. 

According to the INMO, there were 52 patients on trolleys in the hospital this morning, despite gaining more than 110 new beds since January.

Hospital management have cancelled all elective and outpatient services for the week.

UL Hospitals Group is urging members of the public to consider all available care options before attending the Emergency Department at UHL. 

In a statement, it said: “Daily presentations at the [emergency] department in excess of 240 have been the norm in recent weeks. In the 24 hours to Wednesday at 8am, the attendance was 241. Weekend attendances too have risen significantly in recent weeks, and last weekend was no exception.”

As of this morning there were 12 people in UHL with Covid-19, of whom 2 are in critical care.

“Managing this continuing and steadily rising influx of emergency presentations and admissions is, to say the least, a challenge for our healthcare workers, not just in terms of numbers, but also in the context of the social distancing and other infection prevention and control measures that have been in place in our hospitals throughout the pandemic,” UL Hospitals Group added.  

The INMO has called on Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to “look under the bonnet” and see why additional beds have not made a substantial impact.

“UHL has had a major investment of new beds over the last six months, but frontline nurses report that overcrowding is getting even worse,” INMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations Mary Fogarty said. 

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She said that union members have said the hospital is “out of control” despite elective surgeries being cancelled, and that additional bed capacity is “no silver bullet” to solving the problems at the hospital. 

“The Minister needs to look under the bonnet of UHL and see what has happened. We need a fast-tracked review into why these new beds haven’t had a positive impact. Limerick’s patients deserve better.”

Fogarty added that members are still fighting Covid-19 and “are frankly exhausted”. 

“Even before the pandemic, UHL was a seriously overstretched hospital. Something has to give. Limerick nurses’ morale is at an all-time low.”

The Minister for Health has been contacted for comment. 

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Jane Moore

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