Pre-fabs to help ease hospital bed crisis

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Kieran O'Donnell TD

A NEW quick-build unit that would provide an additional 50 beds at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) could be up and running in less than a year.

Limerick Fine Gael Senator Kieran O’Donnell told the Limerick Post that UHL would be a priority to get funding for a modular unit which would provide an interim solution while plans go ahead for a permanent 96-bed unit for the hospital.

The 96 bed unit is likely to be included in the Government’s national plan to be revealed this Friday, but even with funding ring-fenced, it will take more than three years before a single patient can be treated there.

Meanwhile, a call has gone out from Government for hospitals to apply for funding for quick-build modular units which would supply desperately needed bed-space and Senator O’Donnell believes Limerick will be a priority for one of these units.

“I’ve put it to the Minister that Limerick must be considered as a priority for a modular build. The acute 96 bed unit will get funding under the capital programme but we must have an interim solution”.

He said he has been in discussions with hospital management and he understands that there is room on the hospital grounds for such a unit.

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“I would envisage that it would supply 50 beds and supply them quickly. The key to these units is the speed of the build. The hospital can get on with pre-planning and the council can move along with the process.

“I would hope the decision to provide a unit for Limerick will be taken over the next couple of months and that the beds will be in place in the next year”.

Minister Simon Harris was not being drawn on the provision of the 96 bed unit when he visited Limerick on Monday to open a new Primary Care Centre in the city, but said that he was “open to discussing interim measures,” for Limerick.

Senator O’Donnell predicted that the funding to move the Ennis Road Maternity hospital to co-locate with UHL will also be provided for when the National Plan is unveiled on Friday.

He was speaking after a week in which numbers on trolleys in UHL rose to 62 at one stage, according to figures supplied by the Irish Nurse and Midwives Organisation.

“Overcrowding is a legacy issue and Limerick must be prioritised for interim measures to tackle this crisis,” Senator O’Donnell said.

There was no-one available from UHL to comment on the hospital’s view on the provision of a modular unit at time of going to press.

More about health here.