Nurses call for investigation into record overcrowding at Limerick Hospital

Mary Fogarty, INMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations

WITH a record number of patients waiting for beds at University Hospital Limerick this morning, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has called for a formal investigation into overcrowding at the hospital.

According to the INMO’s daily TrolleyWatch figures, 97 patients are without a bed today in University Hospital Limerick (UHL), the highest number recorded in any Irish hospital since the union began compiling trolley figures.

The INMO has once again called on the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to investigate the overcrowding issue at the hospital.

Mary Fogarty, INMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations said the trolley numbers at UHL are extremely concerning.

“Time and time again, University Hospital Limerick is the most overcrowded hospital in Ireland.

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“Despite major investment in capacity at the hospital, it is making no dent in the consistent overcrowding problem in the hospital. Overcrowding adds stress for staff and worsens patient care. It is high-risk in normal times, but even more so during a pandemic,” she explained.

“The INMO is once again calling on HIQA to urgently investigate the overcrowding issue in the hospital and make recommendations.

“The patients and nurses at University Hospital Limerick deserve better than these conditions. It has been an extremely difficult 22 months since Covid first arrived on our shores but UHL was already overstretched without being dealt with the hand of a pandemic.

“The staff, patients and wider community in Limerick need to be assured that the long-standing issues at UHL will be resolved,” Ms Fogarty declared.

Earlier this week, Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan said that the figures provided by the INMO do not bode well for 2022 with UHL consistently topping the table when it comes to the number of people being treated on trollies.

“The lifting of Covid-19 related restrictions is very welcome, but it brings its own risks for the Mid-West’s primary hospital. While most people will be vigilant in public spaces, I fear that we will see a rise in presentations at the emergency department following the re-opening of the late-night economy. We need to plan for this potential increase in admissions.”

“Staff at UHL have faced two years of working in the most challenging of environments and  we need to ensure that the capacity and overcrowding issues are addressed in their workplace. We need to hear from the Minister for Health as to what plans he has in place to address this overcrowding.”

“I have written to the Minister for Health asking him again to address this issue and to meet with me, in Limerick, to visit the hospital and hear directly from the staff. I hope he heeds this call, and we can work on how to alleviate these stresses and strains from the staff at the hospital.”

“As part of the solutions to address the overcrowding and trolley crisis in UHL we have been promised a new 96-bed unit. While this is not some panacea to the issues the hospital faced, it is an important first step.”