Universal Healthcare should be legacy of pandemic

UHL overcrowding
Overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick

A UNIVERSAL healthcare service that’s fit for purpose should be one positive element to emerge from the hardship endured by so many people during the Covid-19 pandemic.

That’s the view of Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan who believes that now is the time to address the issues of capacity and overcrowding so that staff at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) can operate in the best environment available.

“The pandemic was a challenge to us all. We can be proud of how we reacted. We can be proud of our community solidarity and most of all we can be proud of our local healthcare workers and our hospital staff,” Deputy Quinlivan said in an interview with the Limerick Post .

However, despite the selflessness of heroic healthcare workers, he believes that the pandemic has laid bare the abysmal state of the health services.

“Waiting lists were there  long before Covid and they have lengthened. The number of people being treated on trolleys in hospital corridors was high prior to Covid and that continues to be the case.

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“The issues of the health service need to be addressed urgently. The numbers presenting to ICU with Covid symptoms have reduced, so we can no longer hide behind the excuse of Covid for the failures of our health system.

“University Hospital Limerick has consistently had the highest number of people on trolleys. This is not due to some sudden surge; it is always the most overcrowded.

“In the first month of this year there were 1,300 people treated on hospital trolleys at our local hospital. This is a failure of planning by successive governments. It is a failure of leadership. The necessary capital investment has not been committed and patients and health care personnel reap the consequences of this failure of leadership.

“Any of us who have had the misfortune of needing to attend the hospital can testify to how professional our health care workers are. On a good day, they have very challenging jobs. Having to cope with such levels of overcrowding only adds to the challenges of their roles.

“It’s a credit to these staff that they keep showing up. They have done tremendous work in managing and treating the large number of people presenting at the hospital. However, they deserve a break.

The Sinn Féin Deputy said the last two years have been “the toughest of times for healthcare workers, hospital staff and their families.

The staff at UHL have faced two years of working in the most challenging of environments, with the danger of infection always looming. Now that we are exiting the period of Covid restrictions we need to ensure that the capacity, staffing and overcrowding issues are addressed in their workplace.

“They deserve no less. Let us deliver a national health service that is fit for purpose as part of a true legacy of Covid-19.”