Elective surgeries suspended at Limerick hospital to prevent overcrowding

University Hospital Limerick

ALL ELECTIVE surgeries at University Hospital Limerick will be suspended from December 27 until January 15, in anticipation of huge demands on beds over the holiday period.

Patients who are fit to go home or into step-down care in other hospitals were also being discharged in the run up to Christmas, to free up beds for seriously ill people presenting at the hospital’s consistently overcrowded emergency department.

At the peak of demand this time last year, there were more than 900 admitted patients waiting on trolleys and elsewhere in hospitals countrywide to be given an in-patient bed.

A spokesman for UHL has confirmed that the hospital will still deal with emergency and trauma surgeries.

The contingency plans are part of the hospital’s escalation policy to deal with overcrowding.

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Since the start of winter, UHL was experiencing high demand on the emergency department (ED), with various respiratory conditions sending more people into the ED, particularly the elderly and other vulnerable categories of patients.

The cancellation of elective procedures, such as endoscopies, is to free up beds in day wards so that those beds can be brought into surge capacity plans.

Other moves to alleviate pressure on the ED, and ultimately on the acute hospital, include free childrens’ flu vaccination clinics as the numbers of flu cases doubled just before Christmas, posing a risk to vulnerable categories of people.