Senior Limerick medics call for elective surgery hospital 

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Professor Calvin Coffey, consultant general and colorectal surgeon with the UL Hospitals Group.

FOLLOWING the deferral of almost all elective activity yesterday, two professors at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) have called for the setting up of an elective surgery hospital in the region.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s  ‘Morning Ireland’, consultant colorectal surgeon Professor Calvin Coffey said it “beggars belief” that an elective hospital for the region had not been included in the Sláintecare plan.

Warning of the consequences of scheduled procedures that had to be cancelled because of reduced bed capacity, he said: “Today’s cancellations will become tomorrow’s emergencies and yesterday’s cancellations are today’s emergencies”.

“We need to protect our ability to provide elective surgeries. It is very upsetting for everyone – patients and staff.  Everyone is demoralised and depleted. We need immediate measures to provide surgery.

Prof Coffey called on the Government and the elected representatives in the Mid West Region to act.

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He paid tribute to the management and administrators of the hospital who, against all odds,  had protected cancer care during the pandemic.

Professor Brian Lenehan, the chief clinical director at UHL supported the call for an elective surgery hospital for the region.

He said there had been a significant increase in patients attending the emergency department in UHL. In 2019, the weekly average was 190, this year it was 250 and last week they treated 290 patients.

Such demand is having a significant impact on bed capacity which was already under pressure because of Covid, he said. That is “to the detriment” of patients awaiting planned procedures.

There should not be a situation where patients awaiting scheduled procedures were competing for bed space with emergency department admissions, added Prof Lenehan.

The Department of Health confirmed 23,125 Covid cases yesterday, including 8,910 through PCR tests and 14,215 positive antigen results.