SPEAKING in the Dáil this week, Sinn Féin Limerick TD Maurice Quinlivan raised with the Taoiseach the limited number of ICU beds available at University Hospital Limerick.
He reminded Taoiseach Micheál Martin of the commitment contained in the Programme for Government to “ensure capacity for a Covid-19 rapid response, including bed and ICU capacity and for non-Covid emergencies into the longer term by utilising some private hospital capacity if necessary.”
Deputy Quinlivan quoted a recent radio interview given by the Chief Executive of University Hospital Group in which she advised that UHL had 12 ICU beds and 16 high dependency beds, and that the hospital could only deal with another three ICU beds.
He asked the Taoiseach: “Given the current high demand for ICU beds at University Hospital Limerick, would the Minster outline what steps are being taken to ensure that there is the capacity to increase the number of available ICU beds at UHL? Given the current high demand for ICU beds at University Hospital Limerick, the fact that you were a former Health Minister and that three other members of cabinet were or are Ministers for Health and that we are almost two years into the Covid pandemic, what are the plans?”
Deputy Quinlivan added: “Following this I questioned An Taoiseach to outline what steps are being taken to ensure that there is the capacity to increase the number of available ICU beds at UHL.”
In response to the questioning by Deputy Quinlivan, the Taoiseach acknowledged that an additional response was required at the Limerick hospital.
The Limerick TD raised the spectre of limited ICU capacity on a day in which the figures for people being treated on hospital trolleys showed that in the month of November so far 1,169 people at University Hospital Limerick were left waiting on trolleys.
Speaking afterwards, Deputy Quinlivan stated: “I raised this concern due to the limited free ICU capacity available at the hospital. This limited capacity coupled with the excessive numbers of people being treated on trolleys makes it abundantly clear that we are at a point of perpetual crisis at UHL. The winter period has only started and the seasonal increase in presentations to the hospital will put additional strain on already exhausted staff.
“I appreciate the Taoiseach acknowledging that additional resources are required. I would however like to know what resources will be provided and when he intends to direct them to University Hospital Limerick.”