Public told to avoid Limerick Hospital emergency department

Overcrowding at the emergency department in UHL

MANAGEMENT at University Hospital Limerick (UHL)  have once again asked the public to avoid the hospital’s emergency department unless absolutely necessary.

106 patients lay on trolleys waiting for beds at UHL yesterday, 124 on Wednesday and 104 on Tuesday as it reinforced its position as Ireland’s most overcrowded hospital.

The highest number of patients on trolleys was 126 on April 21, 2022, according to figures published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

Despite attempts by the UL Hospitals Group (ULHG) to mitigate overcrowding, the trolley crisis has continued due to “high attendances at the emergency department”.

In the latest in a string of similar statements regarding overcrowding at UHL, patients ”with less urgent complaints” were told to “expect long waits for treatment at the emergency department.

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“We’re asking the public to consider all available healthcare options to help them avoid long waits in the emergency department,” the statement read.

“During the month of April, average daily attendances at the department were 227, compared with the 195 recorded in 2019, the last full year prior to the pandemic.

“This trend has continued into May as hospital staff experienced five particularly busy days over the  bank holiday weekend.These attendances are at levels significantly in excess of what is typical for weekends.

“Management and staff in UHL continue to work to our escalation plan to create extra capacity, and medical teams have been undertaking additional ward rounds to identify patients suitable for transfer to Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s Hospitals. We continue to work closely with our colleagues in HSE Mid West Community Healthcare to expedite discharges.”

“Patients have also been transferred to Croom Orthopaedic Hospital, where additional theatre lists are going ahead outside of the hospital’s core orthopaedic activity.”

“The hospital management team is meeting twice daily and keeping the situation under constant review. In line with our escalation plan, a small number of surgical patients have had their procedures at UHL deferred to prioritise the sickest patients in the region coming through the emergency department.

“Any patient whose procedure is deferred will be contacted by the hospital and all patients are advised to attend for their appointment/procedure unless contacted to advise otherwise.”

“It is encouraging to see an increase in attendances to our Injury Units in recent weeks. In the first three days of this week, our Injury Units at Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s saw an average of 180 patients every day. This compares to 106 daily attendances in 2022.

“Our model 2 hospitals have also expanded our Medical Assessment Unit service and slots are now available for GPs to refer appropriate medical patients seven days a week at Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s.”