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UHL doctors write open letter outlining challenges they face treating patients

The letter was signed off by five doctors and addressed to ‘the people of the Mid West’.

DOCTORS AT UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick have penned an open letter outlining their concerns for bed-shortages and wait time for acutely ill patients at the hospital. 

The letter said elderly and frail patients, in particular, faced “unacceptable” wait times when they presented at the emergency department, meaning “the experience of some of these patients has been very bad”. 

The letter, which was signed off by five doctors and addressed to “the people of the Mid West” also said the only way to deal with the challenges it faced was by “maximising efficiency”.

“The only way that this huge volume of attendances and admissions can be coped with by UHL, with a reduced number of beds, is by maximising efficiency. 

“So the hospital focuses on reducing the length of stay, on admitting people on the day of their planned surgical procedure, and on trying to ensure that they will not need to be re-admitted within a month.”

Doctors drew attention to the catchment areas of UHL and Beaumont Hospital in Dublin to highlight the difference in patient numbers being treated.

While they said it was “difficult to compare hospitals because of national services” that each provided, doctors wrote that UHL served a number of counties and has a greater catchment area of 385,000 people, while Beaumont Hospital serves 290,000 people.

“UHL had 26,153 emergency in-patient discharges while Beaumont has 18,659, a 40% difference,” it said. 

The latest trolley count from the INMO today, showed more patients were waiting on trolleys in UHL than any other hospital in the country, with 53 patients currently waiting on wards and the emergency department. 

Cork University Hospital had the second highest number of patients at 38 patients, followed by Beaumont Hospital with 31 patients.

Earlier this month, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said the highest number of patients on trolleys ever recorded in a single hospital had occurred in Limerick when it counted 81 people waiting on beds. 

Health Minister Simon Harris said he would raise the issue of the trolley count – which he said were different to the HSE’s count – with the INMO at a meeting the following day. 

Local TD Maurice Quinlivan said he was aware of elderly patients who were forced to sleep on trolleys at time when the hospital was running at full capacity.

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