THERE are 155 job vacancies at University Hospital Limerick (UHL), including positions for four consultants, ten junior doctors and 24 nursing posts.
The figures were confirmed after UHL was identified as the hospital with the worst overcrowding problem in the country last year.
According to figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) 11,437 people were waiting on trolleys or in overspill wards at the hospital for beds in 2018.
HSE figures released to Limerick Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan showed that 155 posts have to be filled at the hospital.
Four consultant’s posts have been vacant for an average of 18 months, and ten junior doctors positions are due to be filled by January 14.
24 vacant nursing positions have been vacant for an average of six months, with the hospital promising that 12 of those jobs will be filled this month.
18 patient/client care positions remain unfilled for an average of six months and 41 clerical and administrative posts have been left empty for an average of two months.
There are 16 health and social care professionals needed and these jobs have been vacant for an average of six months while the hospital needs to employ 42.81 more general support staff.
Deputy Quinlivan has now called called on Health Minister Simon to urgently address the recruitment and retention crisis.
“This is quite a worrying figure, especially given the fact that UHL was the most overcrowded hospital in the state in 2018. This severe overcrowding combined with so many vacant positions is resulting in workers being put under substantial pressure across various sections of the hospital,” the Limerick TD stated.
“This is unequivocal evidence of the recruitment and retention crisis the HSE is facing due to government policy.
“The situation in University Hospital Limerick has reached a tipping point, and urgent measures are needed to address the capacity and staffing issues at the hospital.
“Despite the number of people waiting on trolleys at UHL rising from 8,869 in 2017 to a massive 11,437 last year, the number of beds open at the hospital has remained stagnant at 451. This is totally unacceptable,” Deputy Quinlivan declared.
University of Limerick Hospitals Group chief executive Professor Colette Cowan, said that it could take up to 18 months to fill some posts due to the need for Garda vetting as part of the process.
“Recruitment of nurses and midwives is a constant process and continues to be a priority for UL Hospitals Group, we continue to recruit successfully, both nationally and internationally.
“We have been successfully recruiting nurses over the last 18 months to facilitate the opening of new services including the emergency department, expanded dialysis service, additional intensive care beds while also filling general nursing vacancies.
“Nurses are a highly mobile workforce whose skills are greatly in demand at home and abroad. Our recruitment department actively works to fill vacancies as and when they occur on an ongoing basis due to retirements, career breaks, promotion or resignation.
“The nursing turnover in UL Hospitals Group is in line with other hospital groups in the country and year on year the recruitment and retention of nursing staff is improving. At the start of December, the Group employed 102 more nurses than at the same time in 2017,” Professor Cowan said.