Consultants express ‘deep concern’ over patient safety at Limerick Hospital 

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UL Hospitals Group chief executive Colette Cowan

CONSULTANTS at  have written to the chief executive of the UL Hospitals Group to express “deep concern” over patient safety and inordinate pressure on junior doctors to maintain acceptable clinical standards.

Eleven senior clinicians at the Limerick hospital informed Professor Colette Cowan that it’s clear that confidence in management structures at University Hospital Limerick has been severely eroded over the past six to eight months.

And, according to a report broadcast by Clare FM, the consultants said that strenuous efforts are needed to restore confidence in hospital management by engaging with senior clinicians and junior doctors.

The letter has also been submitted to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, who has responded by expressing his concern about overcrowding and insisting that the Government is committed to improving emergency department services for the people of the mid-west.

The letter to Professor Cowan calls for the non-covid pathway at UHL to be stopped immediately and for the hospital to revert back to normal pathways through the emergency department.

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This would mean patients who present at the hospital are assessed by the emergency department, before being referred to the appropriate specialty.

The letter refers to further correspondence from junior doctors, which it says explicitly highlights “inherent dangers” in the current system.

Consultants have asked that hospital management address, as a matter of urgency, access to the hospital through revamped referral processes and a public campaign directed at the public and GPs, on how to access services and when it’s appropriate.

They state that they support the hospital’s junior doctors in the strongest way, as well as their repeatedly expressed concerns about the risks, and tolerance of risk, at UHL.

The consultants go on to state that the letter has been written out of concern for care and welfare of patients, as well as the hospital’s reputation, which they believe is increasingly being held up as an example of poor organisational practice in the health service.

The letter has been passed on to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly by Clare Independent TD Michael McNamara, and in response, Minister Stephen Donnelly has acknowledged that capacity remains a challenge in UHL.

He said significant investment has been made including on providing more beds and there is a committment to further investment.

He added that he’s been reassured that work is underway on short-term, medium-term and long-term actions to address problems identified at the hospital.