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'Beyond crisis point': Limerick hospital breaks record for number of patients waiting on trolleys

Last month, Limerick had over 1,400 patients without beds.

File Image: Patients without beds are typically on chairs and trolleys, often in corridors.
File Image: Patients without beds are typically on chairs and trolleys, often in corridors.
Image: Shutterstock/KSai23

OVERCROWDING AT UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick is “escalating beyond crisis point”, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), as 82 patients are without beds today. 

The figures from the INMO show 47 patients without beds in UHL’s emergency department, with 35 in wards elsewhere in the hospital – the highest-ever trolley figure in an Irish hospital.

Last month, Limerick had over 1,400 patients without beds.

The INMO has called for an immediate intervention in the hospital from Health Minister Simon Harris.

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said Harris needs to cancel electives, provide emergency funding, and increase the number of home care packages today in order to deal with the situation which is “escalating beyond crisis point and cannot be allowed to continue”. 

“Promises of future improvement will not suffice. Real action is needed today.

“We have been saying this on repeat for more than a decade. Ireland does not have sufficient hospital capacity. Without an increase in beds and the professionals to staff them, this problem will continue to escalate,” Ní Sheaghdha said. 

Labour TD Jan O’Sullivan said Harris needs to come forward with a real plan that is “adequately financed to put patients, staff and their families at ease”. 

How many people will it take to be on trolleys to shame the Minister of Health and the HSE into waking up to realities of the trolley crisis in UHL?

“The Minister needs to deal with the staffing inequalities at UHL as the Mid-West region has less frontline staff per head of population than any other region,” O’Sullivan said. 

Yesterday, the UL Hospitals Group issued a statement to TheJournal.ie in response to reports that a 70-year-old woman had spent 105 hours on a trolley in UHL. 

It said the emergency department at University Hospital Limerick is “currently experiencing high numbers of presentations over recent days and weeks, including a significant number of frail, elderly patients”. 

The hospital group added that the current situation at University Hospital Limerick “arises from a combination of insufficient capacity, high attendances at the ED, and an unusually high number of ‘delayed discharges’”.

Figures released by the INMO show there are currently 556 patients without beds across the country, 3 of them children. The other worst-hit hospitals include:

  • Cork University Hospital: 55
  • University Hospital Galway: 42
  • Letterkenny University Hospital: 36
  • South Tipperary General Hospital: 35
  • Mater Misericordiae University Hospital: 35

The Department of Health has been contacted for a comment. 

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Adam Daly

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