Taoiseach to be told of unnecessary deaths at Limerick hospital

Mid West Hospital Campaign Chairperson Noleen Moran.

RELATIVES of people who have died in University Hospital Limerick (UHL) during periods of chronic overcrowding are to meet privately with the Taoiseach tomorrow after he takes a tour of the hospital.

A demonstration to highlight overcrowding at UHL will be held outside the hospital as Mr Varadkar arrives at the Dooradoyle campus.

Noleen Moran, who is chairperson of the Mid West Hospital Campaign group, said they hoped to impress on the Taoiseach the seriousness of the issue when they meet with him.

“It’s only right that he comes and sees the most neglected area of the country and we’ll see if he will do anything about it,” said Ms Moran.

“He should have better access to the information than any of us, but he doesn’t have the lived experience that the families impacted by overcrowding have. That is not being considered in any of the decisions that have been made by government.

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“It’s important that the families impacted by overcrowding, people who have lost loved ones, should inform policy in this area, because this shouldn’t be happening.

“Unnecessary deaths are taking place in University Hospital Limerick – and it is happening as a result of government policy.

“Too many people are presenting at the UHL emergency department and the hospital cannot cope. The Taoiseach needs to hear this from the people who are impacted by it because nothing else seems to be resonating.

“We appreciate that we are getting this meeting, but we expect action to follow from it as well,” Ms Moran added.

Melanie Sheehan’s daughter Eve Cleary, (21), died in UHL in 2019 of cardiac arrest caused by blood clots. Her inquest was told that despite presenting with several blood clot risk factors, she was not assessed for blood clots.

Eve had lay on a trolley for 17 hours before being sent home where she went into cardiac arrest. She was returned to UHL by ambulance but was dead shortly after her arrival.

Ms Sheehan, who is one of those who will meet with  Mr Varadkar tomorrow said she wants a “full independent inquiry into Eve’s death”.

“I want the Taoiseach to look into the full reinstatement of the three regional accident and emergency units, because UHL and the Mid West can’t cope with the numbers attending the emergency department at UHL,” Ms Sheehan added.

On the night of Eve Cleary’s death, UHL was operating with a skeletal staff, there was severe overcrowding in the emergency department, and there were no staff to operate ultrasound equipment.

A verdict of medical misadventure was recorded at her inquest in 2021 by Limerick Coroner, John McNamara. Although there had been “missed opportunities” in the case, he stressed this was not to fault anyone involved in her care.

Meanwhile, UHL has sanctioned an internal review of the care given to 16-year old Aoife Johnston from Shannon, who died at the hospital from meningitis after she reportedly spent 16 hours on a trolley there last December.

Eve Cleary’s parents Melanie Sheehan and Barry Cleary with a photograph of their daughter after the 2021 inquest into her death.