Hospital assessment units getting more patients faster diagnosis and treatment

St. John's Hospital Limerick

A MORE than €5million investment in the expanded medical assessment unit services across UL Hospitals Group, including at St John’s Hospital in Limerick, is paying dividends in terms of patient care.

The number of patients who have been referred by their GPs to the now seven-day service in St John’s, Ennis, and Nenagh hospitals has already almost surpassed the number for the full year last year.

The units are used by GPs who feel their patients need urgent medical attention, typically following issues brought to light in blood test or persistent symptoms.

Referral to a medical assessment unit (MAU) allows a GP to raise timely concerns and patient access to a full suite of assessments and diagnostic procedures, often before the problem becomes acute enough to warrant a trip to the emergency department (ED).

Following a €5.2m investment extending MAUs at St John’s and Nenagh hospitals to seven-day services from April 2023, and securing the already extended MAU at Ennis, total referrals by GPs to all three units in the year to date has almost surpassed the full-year referral total for 2022.

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The latest available data confirms that, by mid-October, GPs across the region had referred a total of 12,087 patients to MAUs via the Bed Bureau at University Hospital Limerick since the beginning of the year. The numbers of patients seen in all three units for all of 2022 totalled 12,683.

The most significant increase in referrals has been at Nenagh Hospital, where referrals in 2023 to date (3,287) are exceeding the numbers referred in all of 2022 by 33 per cent.

A spokesman for the hospital group said that “while it should be emphasised that MAUs are not a walk-in service, the gains are significant for patient access, and for GPs who regard the units as a lifeline in the management of more complex general practice cases”.