Government out of touch with Limerick hospital overcrowding crisis

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Limerick Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan.

THE Government has been accused of being out of touch with the ongoing crisis of patient overcrowding and delays in the emergency department at University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

Speaking in the Seanad last week, Limerick Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan said that UHL was once again on top of the list of hospitals with patients on trolleys and asked where will the trolley numbers be by December?

He also quoted from a letter from a doctor at UHL who explained how “on one night 20 patients had been at the hospital for 16 hours without having blood taken, any monitoring of their vital signs, or being given essential medications or fluids.”

The doctor described staff at the hospital as “grossly overwhelmed” and stated that they were using “extremely dangerous practices.”

Senator Gavan also stated that many people are afraid of having to go the emergency department at UHL in the current circumstances.

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He added that staff shortages have led to the closure of one of the wards in the maternity hospital.

Responding to his comments, Seanad Deputy Leader Lisa Chambers said that  “other parties” were to blame for “creating an expectation that the situation at UHL was fixable overnight.”

However Senator Gavan said that her statement that the crisis couldn’t be fixed overnight implied a complete lack of awareness of just how long this crisis has been going on and the abject failure of successive governments to deal with it.

“That statement from a UHL doctor is the clearest evidence yet that our hospital remains in deep crisis. The INMO have also made a direct appeal to government to do everything in their power to retain staff who are currently overwhelmed by their workload.

“In the context of ever worsening figures for patients on trolleys, a bland declaration that these issues can’t be resolved overnight shows how out of touch this government is with regard to the long running crisis of patient overcrowding in UHL,” Senator Gavan added.