Limerick hospital worst hit in massive wave of overcrowding nationwide

Overcrowding at the emergency department in UHL

THERE were 109 admitted patients waiting for an in-hospital bed on trolleys and overflow wards this morning (Monday) at University Hospital Limerick.

The figure stands as the highest for any hospital in Ireland and marks the 145th consecutive weekday in a row that University Hospital Limerick (UHL) has topped the overcrowding ranks, according to figures calculated by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation’s (INMO) Trolley Watch.

747 patients, including 32 children, have been admitted to hospital without a bed today across Ireland, INMO say. None of the 32 children were waiting on trolleys at UHL.

Letterkenny University Hospital stood as the next most overcrowded hospital in Ireland, with 57 patients waiting for in-hospital bedspace. Sligo University Hospital and University Hospital Galway followed in the tally, with 54 and 53 waiting on trolleys respectively.

Hospital management has repeated acknowledged that the overcrowding situation in the UHL emergency department (ED) “is not the standard of care we want to offer”, and the hospital has activated the escalation plan to free up beds.

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While building works are going ahead to provide further bed capacity at UHL, the hospital currently does not have sufficient bed spaces to cope with the huge population that it serves across Limerick, north Tipperary, and Clare.

Commenting on today’s trolleys numbers, INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “Today’s trolley figures are truly shocking and should be a wake up call to the Health Service Executive, the Government, and individual hospital groups that extraordinary steps must be taken to ensure that we are not replicating the same record breaking trolley numbers we saw at the beginning of this year.”

“The HSE must take action in the form of accelerating the use of private hospital beds, the immediate cancellation of all non-urgent elective activity, and the introduction of heightened infection control measures in all hospitals.

“We are today seeking urgent engagement with the CEO of the HSE and the Minister for Health to discuss what measures can be taken this week to protect the dignity of sick patients and the safety nurses who are trying to provide care in suboptimal conditions.

“The INMO has been warning that dangerous levels of overcrowding were imminent. There is still time to avoid intolerable levels of overcrowding ahead of Christmas and the New Year if action is taken now.”