Limerick Hospital overcrowding may be affecting patient death rates

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UHL senior staff nurse Ann Noonan

THE Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) annual conference has been told how overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick is potentially affecting patients’ illness and mortality rates as well as the health and safety of nurses who must work in those conditions.

Speaking at the conference in Sligo on Thursday, Ann Noonan, a senior staff nurse at UHL, said that rather than accepting this situation, nurses must now use work safety legislation to hold their employers to meeting their legal obligations to staff.

She said overcrowding was causing negative outcomes for both patients and staff, leading to “avoidable mortality” among patients.

Ms Noonan also said that management at “the most overcrowded hospital in the country” must be investigated but that the HSE shouldn’t be allowed to carry out that investigation.

Calling for cultural change at UHL, she said:“On behalf of all the overworked nurse in UHL and all the patients in the midwest I am telling the Government that we in the midwest are being failed.

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“We welcome the Minister’s pledge to investigate UHL. It is not enough for hospitals to investigate themselves or for the HSE to internally investigate. We need nurses to be at the centre of this review.”

She pointed out that UHL had a capacity of 530 beds and two weeks earlier, on April 21, there were 126 admitted patients waiting on either a trolley or a chair for a bed.

“That is one-fifth of the capacity of our hospital in excess with no extra staff. Yesterday we had 111, today 93. Management need to be investigated,” she added.