No change at Limerick hospital until resourcing issue is dealt with

Limerick Labour Party councillor Conor Sheehan.

NOTHING will change at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) until the issue of resourcing the hospital properly is dealt with.

That’s the view of Limerick Labour Party councillor Conor Sheehan who asked, “Why is Limerick 50 per cent more overcrowded than every other hospital in the country?

The answer is that when St John’s, Nenagh, and Ennis were downgraded and UHL never got its fair share of resources to create the centre of excellence that was promised.”

The City North representative is of the opinion that while there are issues that need to be dealt with in terms of the management at the hospital, the core issue at UHL is resourcing.

“Limerick is understaffed and has fewer beds per capita in comparison to the five other acute hospital groups. Three years ago, it was clearly shown by the then Clinical Director Dr Gerry Burke that the University of Limerick Hospitals Group was poorly resourced in comparison with the other six hospital groups,” Cllr Sheehan said.

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“At that time, the disparity amounted to a ten per cent deficit in annual funding with very large disparities in staffing, particularly in medical staffing and HSCPs (Health and Social Care Professionals), and a large disparity in acute beds. Dr Burke believed more than 200 additional beds were needed and this has been backed up by Professor Lenehan, the current clinical director.”

Cllr Sheehan said that Dr Burke’s research showed that, on average, the five other hospital groups in Ireland had up to 25 per cent more hospital doctors, 27 per cent more consultants, 50 per cent more HSCPs and seven per cent more nurses and midwives compared to the UL Hospitals Group. The group needed 130 more doctors, 120 nurses, and 200 HSCPs to bring it up to the same level as the five other hospital groups.

He said that it was clear from the current dire situation at UHL that little has happened to correct these anomalies and the disparity has not been corrected.

“The HSE and the Department of Health need to officially accept that there is a staffing deficit at UHL and stop gaslighting us in the Mid West.

Cllr Sheehan is now calling on public representatives to sit in on acute hospital performance meetings for transparency and accountability.

“We also need to know what methodology is used to allocate resources within the HSE to the six hospital groups, and specifically to ULHG,” he said.

“Limerick’s Government TDs were very vocal while in opposition and before they took ministerial office, yet have little to say about the deteriorating situation in recent weeks. They were all told about this inequality in 2019, yet clearly nothing has happened to level up the hospital in that time.”