THERE are currently a record-breaking 95 patients waiting on trolleys in University Hospital Limerick – the highest number on record nationally.
Sinn Féin TD for Limerick Maurice Quinlivan has called on the government to take immediate steps to address the overcrowding issues at UHL.
“The government needs to step up and take action on this. Today there are 95 people waiting on trolleys; the highest ever daily number. Year on year, month on month and day on day, UHL has consistently the highest number of patients on trolleys.
“It is not good enough for the people of Limerick and the wider Mid West. It is not fair on these patients and it puts great strain on the health professionals and other hospital workers. These figures should not be a shock to the Minister for Health. We have been warning him about the rising trolley numbers for over a year.”
“We were concerned by his Winter Plan, and we have offered alternative solutions. The Minister needs to engage with the hospital and public representatives in Limerick and outline what emergency steps he will take to address this crisis as a matter of urgency,” said Deputy Quinlivan.
He added: “Last month, over 1,200 people were treated on trolleys at UHL. If current rates continue for November, we will exceed that level. Staff cannot continue to work in these overcrowded conditions. As part of the solutions to address the overcrowding and trolley crisis in UHL, we have long been promised a new 96-bed unit. But this is still years away.”
Limerick Labour Councillor Conor Sheehan said a bespoke plan is urgently needed to deal with overcrowding at UHL and, claims that the current winter plan is inadequate.
“It’s only the second week of November and we have now recorded the highest number of people waiting on trolleys at University Hospital Limerick.
“UHL is consistently the most overcrowded hospital in the country. This is not acceptable and it demands attention from this government. What is needed now is a bespoke plan to deal with the severe overcrowding which much include additional staff to protect these patients. The situation is now so serious that my fear is that this shameful record will be broken in the coming weeks as Covid, winter flu and RSV continue to spread,” remarked Cllr Sheehan.
He also warned that the winter plan announced by government yesterday “will not be enough”.
“There’s great talk of additional beds but there is no point in increasing capacity if we don’t have the healthcare assistants, nurses and doctors to care for the patients in them. Indeed, we need to ensure that this plan is Covid-proofed. We know that the capacity will disappear when Covid gets into hospital because beds and wards close.
“Last week with a surge in Covid cases, we had just one ICU bed available at UHL to cover Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary. How is this acceptable? The numbers are only going in one direction and I am gravely concerned that this lack of ICU capacity will lead to poorer outcomes for patients who desperately need care.”
Cllr Sheehan concluded: “Labour have repeatedly called for the Minister to nationalise at least two private hospitals to secure additional bed capacity. We are still in a pandemic. The normal rules don’t apply.
“With community transmission of Covid-19 so high at the moment and a slight lag between case numbers and hospitalisation, the situation at UHL will only worsen and the hospital may yet exceed today’s frightening numbers in the weeks ahead.”