Overcrowding and Covid a recipe for disaster at Limerick hospital

An overcrowded emergency department is a common sight at University Hospital Limerick.

WITH 91 patients on trolleys waiting for beds at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) this morning, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has warned that overcrowding and an increase in Covid cases is a recipe for disaster.

The warning comes as 1,042 patients are reported to be in hospital with Covid-19, the highest number since January 12.

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said the fact that 544 patients are on trolleys today and 1,042 in hospitals with Covid, almost two years to the day that the virus first reached our shores, is a recipe for disaster.

“If our past experience of Covid and high numbers of patients on trolleys has taught us anything, we will be seeing the impacts of this on our health system for many weeks to come.

“INMO members have been sounding the alarm on the rise of trolley numbers since mid-summer, and we also urged caution on the removal of mandatory mask wearing in public spaces.

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“We are heading into what is traditionally an extremely busy week in our Emergency Departments and last week we set out in detail what is needed now from Government at the Oireachtas committee.

“We met with the Minister for Health last Thursday evening and emergency department nurses from units around the country set out in detail the dangers presented for patients in overcrowded hospitals right now. There should be no doubt at this stage as to the negative effects of overcrowding.

“The HSE and political system have a responsibility to the exhausted workforce to ensure their workplaces are safe. There must be no tolerance for hospital overcrowding while a highly transmissible airborne virus is making its way around our hospitals. Improvements to air quality in our hospitals must be a priority.

“If non-emergency services need to be curtailed in order to allow the HSE and hospital groups to get a handle on out-of-control trolley figures and Covid cases within the hospital system then that must be done.

“The HSE has a duty as an employer and as a service provider to take the necessary steps to scale up capacity. The current state of our health system is extremely concerning. It is now time for the Minister to attend the emergency department taskforce and ask the HSE to put in place realistic short term pressure reliving measures.