Health Minister asked to expedite 96-bed unit at Limerick hospital

Computer gererated image of the 96-bed unit at UHL

HEALTH Minister Stephen Donnelly has been asked to expedite the construction of the 96-bed unit at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) in response to the chronic overcrowding at the hospital’s emergency department.

Speaking during a Dáil debate on the Independent Review of Unscheduled Care Performance, Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan said that many of the issues highlighted in the report remain as causes for concern.

The review, which was completed in 2019 but not published, examined emergency care in nine hospitals and detailed unsafe treatment being caused by long waiting times, overcrowding and staff shortages.

“The emergency department wait times look like they will reach pre-Covid levels, with more than 51,000 patients waiting longer than 12 hours and 13,000 of them waiting more than 24 hours for admission,” Deputy Quinlivan added.

“This is in the context of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine in the UK concluding that there is, on average, one excess death per every 67 patients of those who stay in an emergency department for 8 to 12 hours.”

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“I am particularly concerned about the plight of patients and staff at UHL which continues to have huge numbers of people treated on trollies and in corridors, almost 1,600 each month of 2022.

“Despite the best efforts of overworked staff, the issues of long wait times and treatment on hospital trollies continues unchecked.

“I spoke with a senior staff member at the hospital who gave me a first-hand shocking account of just how tragically challenging their jobs have become. That staff member contacted me in desperation at how difficult a work environment they and the work colleagues are facing.

“I have absolutely no doubt people are dying unnecessarily due to these failures,” he declared.

“I was informed that there was only one ECG machine available across the three wards in the emergency department. Apparently, the other machines are broken. These are important but really basic pieces of equipment that should be readily available to staff. A major hospital with just one ECG machine for the emergency department  is simply not good enough.

“The Minster for Health has an abundance of challenges facing him, but he seems to be getting nowhere fast. I have appealed to him and I do so again to expedite the construction of the 96-bed unit at UHL.

“While it won’t solve the problems of the hospital, it would be an important signal to the people of Limerick that they are not being abandoned, ignored and that the Government is committed to rectifying the problems at UHL,” Deputy Quinlivan concluded.