2,500 patient appointments cancelled at Limerick hospital

Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan at University Hospital Limerick.

MORE than 2,500 medical appointments have been cancelled this year at University Hospital Limerick.

The issue was raised by Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan who believes that dysfunction across the health service is driving a vicious cycle of overcrowding, cancellations, and long waits.

And he has called for a multi-annual plan to expand hospital capacity and develop a sustainable workforce at the Limerick hospital.

“This has become a perennial problem at UHL due to the failure to address the ongoing trolley crisis at the hospital,” he claimed.

“There is a deficit of 1,000 acute inpatient beds in hospitals, and there are now more than 6,000 people waiting for home support across the State.

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“There are hundreds of delayed discharges every year because of the lack of community recovery beds and home support.

In a response on the cancellations, a spokesman for UHL said while the hospital has had to cancel appointments, they “can also be cancelled for a number of other reasons, including by the patients themselves”.

“Where appointments are cancelled multiple times and rescheduled, it is possible that one patient can have multiple cancellations.

“Reductions in scheduled care early in the new year have been a feature of the Group’s winter plan in recent years to allow us manage surges in medical patients associated with winter viruses and illness. In addition, this year’s record surge in emergency presentations was such that additional reductions in scheduled care were necessary.

Admissions through the emergency department at UHL account for 83 per cent of inpatient bed days, leaving limited capacity for elective activity.

Private hospital bed capacity in the Mid West is the lowest in the country, with only 50 beds available at Limerick’s Bon Secours Hospital.