UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick had by far the worst overcrowding in the country during the worst March on record for overcrowding, with 1,671 admitted patients on trolleys waiting for a bed.
According to figures released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), March 2022 has been the worst March for overcrowding since the union began counting trolleys in 2006, with 11,001 patients nationwide left waiting for a bed.
The most overcrowded hospital of March 2022 was UHL with 1,671 patients on trolleys and in overflow wards, while the second worst, University Hospital Galway saw 947 patients on trolleys during the month.
In response to a Limerick Post query on the reason for the high figures, a ULHG spokesperson said hospital overcrowding nationally “is being driven by a resurgence in Covid-19 transmission and by continued high levels of attendances at emergency departments.
“For UL Hospitals Group, the Covid-19 pandemic remains a daily reality that continues to significantly impact on the management of inpatient care.
“Higher community transmission of Covid-19 during March has driven an increase in hospitalisations, leading to higher levels of Covid-related staff leave. Covid outbreaks have led to more beds being blocked, in addition to restrictions on visitor access on some of our sites, an unwelcome development with particularly negative implications for our inpatients.”
The spokesperson revealed that Covid levels also resulted in curtailment of scheduled activity for a time last month, while there has been no reversal of the upward trend in attendances at the emergency department in UHL during March.
“Provisional data shows an average of 229 daily attendances, approximately 17 per cent greater than in 2019. The lowest daily presentation during March (excluding weekends and Bank Holidays) was 212, and the highest 290. For comparison, the average daily attendance at emergency department during 2019, the last full year prior to the pandemic, was 195.
“Those attending emergency department currently include many frail and elderly people as well as a recent increase in paediatric patients. People are presenting with more complex conditions than previously, and requiring longer hospital stays to recover from their illnesses.”