University Hospital Limerick has public image challenge

University Hospital Limerick

CONSTANT media and public adversity is one of the main challenges facing staff at University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

During a presentation this week to a meeting of the Metropolitan District of Limerick City and County Council, CEO of University Hospital Limerick Group, Professor Colette Cowan maintained that the hospital “gets pillared a lot” by the media.

“It is very difficult for staff that have to read the same story over and over, which is not good for morale,” she told council members.

Councillors had requested the meeting with Professor Cowan in a bid to address the on-going overcrowding crisis at UHL. She revealed that during an eight-week period this year 11051 attended University Hospital Limerick’s Emergency Department for unscheduled care.

“We never turn away a patient, but we are the first point of contact when we should be the last. Footfall is high constantly and we do not have the capacity to meet the demand. No one gets a break,” Prof Cowan explained.

She also called for support in promoting a positive image for the hospital and said that patient care was at the centre of all they do. She went on to highlight developments for the future, which included the relocation of the maternity hospital, enhanced day surgeries in Nenagh and Ennis hospitals, the redevelopment of Croom Orthopaedic Hospital and the National Development plan for a 96-bed block at UHL.

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Councillors then had the opportunity to air their concerns at City Hall on issues ranging from overcrowding to parking, staffing, noise pollution and ambulance services.

“It all sounds good, it all sounds nice,” Solidarity councillor Cian Prendiville told Prof Cowan.

“But I am sure you are as frustrated as I am. Three years ago we got a new Emergency Plan and the new ED was supposed to resolve all this. We seem to be running to stand still, or even running to slide back a bit.

“Any day is a bad day when someone is on a trolley, so then every day is a bad day at the minute. How do we get to a good day?” the City North representative asked.

In response, the UHL Group CEO pointed out that the hospital is at full capacity all the time.

“We have to do more with less. People are getting the treatment and service they need at least. We have very good staff,” she insisted.

Fianna Fail councillor Kieran O’Hanlon said there was great credit due to the staff at UHL who work under such “difficult” conditions.

While Fine Gael councillor Daniel Butler called for a need to “engage with the local community a bit better”.

“Driveways are being blocked due to the parking issue, which is a serious problem. Emergency services wouldn’t even be able to get down some of the roads in the area. You are also getting closer and closer to residents and people have complained about being kept awake at night by air conditioning units,” he claimed.

Prof Cowan told him that UL Hospitals were taking a look at park and ride as a way of dealing with parking issues.

by Alan Jacques