86 patients on trolleys despite measures to cut overcrowding at Limerick hospital

A doctor working in the overcrowded emergency department at UHL.

DESPITE measures to reduce overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick (UHL), it remained the most overcrowded hospital in the country today with 86 patients on trolleys.

Photographs taken today in three zones of the emergency department show patients on trolleys along both sides of the corridors and staff trying to work in the cramped conditions.

Elderly and younger patients lie alongside each other with no adequate privacy or dignity. One photo shows a female doctor squeezing sideways past two trolleys on either side of a corridor in one of the emergency department zones.

43 patients were on trolleys in the emergency department this morning along with 43 more on trolleys in other parts of the hospital, according to figures published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

UHL is the only Model Four hospital with a 24-hour emergency department, catering for a catchment of almost 400,000 across Limerick, Clare and north Tipperary, as well as areas of north Cork and north Kerry.

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Today, in the waiting areas outside the emergency department where it is less busy, patients wait on chairs to be treated by a doctor, or to be sent for scans, or wait for a decision to be made on whether they will be admitted or discharged.

Limerick City and County Fire Service has conducted five inspections of the emergency department and surrounding areas since January 2.

Building work has begun on a 96-bed block on the grounds of the hospital, with a second 96 bed unit now being sought by the UL Hospitals Group.

Staff bringing a patient on a trolley to a corridor in the overcrowded emergency department at UHL on Wednesday, February 15 when 86 patients were waiting for beds.