Hospital overcrowding ‘out of control’ with 111 patients on trolleys

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha

THE UL Hospitals Group have urged the public to avoid the emergency department at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) unless for serious cases as a record number of 111 inpatients waited for a bed there.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), which represents hundreds of staff at the Limerick hospital, called for direct intervention from the HSE and the Minister for Health stating that the number of inpatients waiting for beds across the country had been left to spiral out of control.

The union said 549 patients were on hospital trolleys with 111 patients on trolleys in University Hospital Limerick, the second day in a row where a national record has been broken by the hospital.

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said, “the situation in our hospitals, particularly University Hospital Limerick, is now out of control”.

“It is unacceptable to our members that this level of overcrowding is allowed to continue while Covid is still a very real feature in our hospitals,” she added.

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The union has also called for the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to investigate consistent patient overcrowding at UHL.

A spokesman for the UL Hospitals Group said that in the 24 hours to 8am this morning, 251 people presented at the emergency department in UHL.

“Since the start of the year, the average daily attendances has been 226. On all weekdays this month, attendances have exceeded 200, with the highest attendances, 265, recorded this Monday and on January 18,” he explained.

“This is far in excess of the 195 average daily presentation figure in 2019, the last full year pre-pandemic, and continues a trend experienced in the Mid-West over a number of months”.

The emergency department UHL is the only 24-hour accident and emergency service in Limerick, Clare, north Tipperary, and parts of north Cork, covering a population of around 400,000.

The hospital spokesman said the hospital was “managing high attendances of very sick people with a variety of complex illnesses, including Covid-19, and the public is being advised to consider all alternative care options before attending the emergency department”.

“People with less urgent complaints are advised to expect long delays at the emergency department today, and to first consider our Injury Units, GPs, out-of-hours GP services and pharmacists before attending the emergency department, which continues to experience high presentations,” he continued.

There were 61 Covid-positive inpatients being treated in the hospital, of whom five were receiving critical care.

The spokesman said a Covid outbreak in the hospital was also affecting a number of inpatient wards, increasing demand for isolation beds and impacting on patient flow”.