No new acute hospital beds for Limerick 

Deputy Michael McNamara

LIMERICK and the Mid West have been left out in the cold in the allocation of more than 400 new intensive care and acute hospital beds.

In response to a parliamentary question from Independent Clare TD, Michael McNamara, the HSE’s Acute Operations department says none of the six hospitals in the UL Hospitals Group will receive any of the 411 acute and 36 ICU beds scheduled to be opened this year.

Deputy McNamara said that while the provision of additional bed capacity on its own will not resolve the overcrowding problems at University Hospital Limerick (UHL), the delivery of new acute, sub-acute and ICU beds should certainly be part of the solution.

He went on to describe the exclusion of all six hospitals in Limerick, Clare and north Tipperary from the allocation of 447 high dependency beds as “disgraceful”.

“UHL is the most consistently overcrowded hospital in the country having recorded 76,000 attendances in 2021, up 16 per cent from 2020 and with 91 people on trolleys waiting for a bed there today, (Monday),” he said.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

“It is unbelievable that the HSE has no plans to open any new beds this year at UHL, or at Ennis, Nenagh, Croom Orthopaedic, St. John’s and the Maternity hospital.”

Deputy McNamara has questioned the effectiveness of the proposed strategic plan being developed by HIQA and UL Hospitals Group in relation to addressing capacity issues at UHL.

“The entire review process is being undermined when the provision of additional bed capacity in the Midwest is completely overlooked.

“Hospital management and staff appear to be firefighting on the issue of overcrowding as opposed to identifying and rectifying the issues that are causing the problem. Increasing bed capacity, while not a panacea, must be part of that solution as failure to do so will lead to a continuation of crippling overcrowding problems at UHL,” he said.

Deputy McNamara says a full review of operations within the UL Hospitals Group is required if lasting solutions to the overcrowding issues are to be identified and implemented.

“Additional outside expertise and input mist be deployed in any strategic review of ongoing capacity issues at UHL as the process of undertaking internal reviews has delivered no measurable improvements to date. Overcrowding has in fact worsened in recent years,” he stated.

“HIQA has a limited remit and would not be able to put forward such recommendations as the upgrading of Ennis, Nenagh or St. Johns to Model 3 Hospitals.  There needs to be an assessment of admission and discharge policies at UHL, as well as the impact of population growth on the demand for services within the UL Hospitals Group.”