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Since the beginning of January over 2,573 patients have been admitted to UHL without a bed. Alamy Stock Photo

University Hospital Limerick is having the worst day for overcrowding in any Irish hospital since 2006

The INMO said conditions in the hospital are “unacceptable and dangerous”.


HEALTH MINISTER STEPHEN Donnelly has said there is “no standing over” the record-breaking numbers of patients without a bed in University Hospital Limerick (UHL) today.

A total of 150 patients are without a hospital bed in UHL, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

This is the highest number of people waiting on trolleys in any hospital since the union began recording the number of patients on trolleys in 2006.

As of yesterday, 240 people have presented to the hospital every day over the last week. The hospital has apologised for the long waits for admission.

Speaking to reporters today in the Department of Health, the minister said “there is no standing over those kinds of numbers”, stating that UHL has been given significant resources in recent years. 

“They have more than 1,000 extra staff that they did at the start of 2020 and they have a lot of extra beds in the hospital,” he said, stating that more investment is underway. 

“So their challenge to me was they needed more resources. They got more resources than any other hospital,” said Donnelly, who added that there must be reform within the hospital, in his view.

The minister said today that one of the key metrics in terms of low numbers of patients on trolleys is weekend discharges. 

UHL has the second worst weekend discharge rate in the country, said Donnelly.

“So we need to see serious change in UHL,” he added, stating that he has a lot of confidence in the new regional executive officer officer who has recently taken over. 

Patients on trolleys

Mary Fogarty of the INMO said that patients in Limerick, “no matter their condition”, were being placed on trolleys “in all available spaces, on public corridors of the hospital, on ward corridors and in the Emergency Department”.

The hospital is “completely congested” with “no patient movement to access an in-patient bed”, said Fogarty, the INMO’s Assistant Director of Industrial Relations for the Midwest and Western regions.

She added that since the beginning of January over 2,573 patients have been admitted to UHL without a bed.

This is the second time in recent months that the hospital has broken the record for the number of people waiting on trolleys, after the INMO found 130 patients were without a bed last October.

Fogarty said: “INMO members have repeatedly highlighted the conditions [in Limerick] as unacceptable and dangerous for patients. When overcrowding is out of control it is simply impossible to maintain patient safety and dignity.”

University Hospital Limerick has apologised for the long delays and said it is currently at its “highest state of escalation”.

A spokesperson said the hospital has been dealing with high levels of activity in its emergency department since 8am yesterday morning.

As of yesterday, according to the hospital group, just 46 patients have been accommodated on trolleys, in cubicles and in single rooms in its Emergency Department and a further 42 patients were being accommodated on trolleys on its inpatient wards.

The spokesperson said: “This trend has continued in recent days with an average of 240 daily presentations over the past seven days, an increase on 219 daily presentations during 2023, our busiest year on record.”

As a result of the delays, UHL management are asking that members of the public only present to their emergency department if and when someone has a life-threatening injury or severe illness.

It added: “We are asking the public to consider all care options, including their GPs, pharmacists and GP out of hours services before presenting at Emergency Departments (EDs).”

Over the recent bank holiday weekend, the HSE appealed to the public to think twice before attending “extremely busy” emergency departments.

Nationally, 710 admitted patients are waiting for beds this morning, according to the INMO, with 504 patients waiting in emergency departments and 206 in wards.

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