THE UL Hospitals Group has called on Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to include Limerick as a site for an elective hospital to help cope with the growing demands for acute care in the region.
Responding to concerns from the Irish Hospitals Consultants Association about 58,000 people on waiting lists in the Mid West, a spokesman for the Hospitals Group outlined measures being taken to reduce those numbers.
According to National Treatment Purchase Fund data, while there were 38,171 patients waiting for outpatient appointments on July 28, this number has decreased by 12 per cent over the past 12 months.
The spokesman said there are a number of initiatives to reduce numbers, including the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), Hospital Safety Net Service Agreement, and the Advanced Clinical Prioritisation Programme.
“Under the Private Hospital Safety Net Service Agreement, UL Hospitals Group has referred urgent surgical and medical cases to private hospitals.
“As well as these initiatives, virtual clinics are being used across our services as a means of identifying patients who can be progressed to in-person treatment, whether for diagnostic imaging, minor procedures, or full episodes of care.”
Recruitment of staff is also on-going, the spokesman said.
There have also been advances in increasing bed capacity, delivering 122 new beds over the past two years and work is about to start on a new 96-bed block – half of which will provide new beds, the other half replacing the outdated multi-bed ‘nightingale’ wards.
However, the statement said, “bed capacity alone is not sufficient to meet the increasing demand on our services, and it remains the strong belief of UL Hospitals Group that the Mid West must have an elective hospital to serve the needs of patients here”.
“The Group has made its case directly to the Minister for Health, and expressed concern about the Mid West not being included in national plans for elective sites agreed for Galway and Cork.
“We urge all stakeholders in healthcare in the Mid West to come together in an effort to ensure the development of an elective-only hospital for this region.
“This will help to ensure a level of public hospital care that the people of the Mid West deserve into the future, with an equal focus on efficient delivery of elective and emergency care,” the spokesman added.