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Limerick Hospital records highest daily trolley figure ever with 95 patients waiting for beds

409 admitted patients were waiting for beds in hospitals across the country this morning.

UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL LIMERICK has recorded its highest daily trolley figure on record today, with 95 patients waiting for beds. 

A total of 409 admitted patients were waiting for beds in hospitals across the country this morning, according to today’s figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

319 patients are waiting in the Emergency Departments, while 90 are in wards elsewhere in the hospitals. 

A total of 95 patients are on trolleys in University Hospital Limerick, with 69 in the Emergency Department and 26 on wards elsewhere in the hospital. 

In a statement this afternoon, UL Hospitals Group said it “apologises to all patients who are facing long wait times for a bed at University Hospital Limerick”. 

“The hospital remains under severe pressure as a result of sustained, record-breaking activity levels at our Emergency Department and a surge in Covid-19 activity over the last number of weeks,” it said. 

The hospital group said average daily presentations to the Emergency Department since Monday 8 November have been 241. On two days over the past week, presentations have exceeded 270. This compares to 195 presentations per day during 2019. 

As of yesterday, there were 45 Covid-19 positive inpatients being treated in the hospital, of whom 13 were receiving critical care. 

“We also continue to manage a Covid outbreak in the hospital that continues to affect four inpatients wards,” the hospital group said. 

“We continue to follow our escalation plan, which includes use of surge capacity, undertaking additional ward rounds, accelerating discharges and identifying patients for transfer to our Model 2 hospitals. However, many patients currently admitted to UHL are sicker and with more complicated conditions, and require longer inpatient stays to recover,” it said. 

The hospital group is advising members of the public to consider all available care options before presenting to the Emergency Department. 

Injury units in Ennis and Nenagh are open from 8am to 8pm, and in St John’s from 8am to 7pm, seven days a week.

Injury units are for the treatment of broken bones, dislocations, sprains strains, wounds, scalds and minor burns.

Anyone with less serious illness or conditions is being asked to contact their GPs or out-of-hours GP services. 

“However, if you are seriously injured or ill or are worried your life is at risk the Emergency Department will assess and treat you as a priority,” the hospital group said. 

Mercy University Hospital in Cork said it is experiencing “high demand” for emergency department services.

A hospital statement said: “The hospital has implemented its escalation policy to deal with the high number of attendees at the Emergency Department and while the ED remains open 24/7 it is regrettable that patients will experience delays.”

The hospital appealed to people to avail of other care services where possible if they require less urgent care.

“Patients with less urgent complaints are advised to contact their GPs or South Doc, in the first instance, or avail of services at the Mercy Local Injury Unit, St Mary’s Health Campus,” the hospital statement said.

‘Inadequate’ winter plan

Yesterday, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) criticised as “inadequate” the government’s plan for how the health service will respond to the challenging winter period, amid a growing number of Covid-19 hospital admissions.

The IMO said the plan would “force more work out of our exhausted doctors”, while opposition spokespeople questioned the lack of detail in the plan on how many healthcare professionals have been hired to staff new beds.

The €77-million plan aims to increase bed capacity, with 205 new acute beds, 275 community beds and 100 additional private community beds to be provided.

It aims to increase palliative care capacity from 221 beds to 276 beds.

Around 4,000 GP diagnostics per week is being provided for, as well as the provision of out of hours GP services. 

Publishing the plan yesterday, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly emphasised the importance of those who need medical attention to seek it “as soon as you feel unwell”.

The Minister also urged “everyone” to consider alternatives to emergency departments: “such as your local pharmacy, GP or minor injury unit as appropriate”.

There will also be an information campaign for the public on managing winter viruses.

The Department of Health said the plan “aims to enable patients to be seen in the community wherever possible by by providing alternative care pathways outside the acute sector in line with Sláintecare”.

But the IMO warned that hospitals and GPs are facing a traumatic winter and said the HSE’s Winter Plan was “inadequate” to meet those challenges. 

Dr Ina Kelly, President of the IMO, said:

This plan was launched at a time when we have only 21 ICU beds available in the country. Every doctor and healthcare worker is working beyond capacity right now and it is untenable that they are being asked to face into a winter with insufficient support.

Dr Kelly continued: “Covid has exposed the long-term cost of failing to invest in our health services. Our only response now seems to be to try to force more work out of our exhausted doctors.

“We have 700 vacant consultant posts meaning huge extra pressure on those consultants we do have. We have NCHDs working excessive and illegal hours putting them under enormous strain, and we have GP services facing unprecedented demand from patients. The capacity is simply not there to meet demand and it is not all Covid-related.”

With reporting by Gráinne Ní Aodha 

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