UHL breaks overcrowding records with more than 2,000 waiting on trolleys in January

University Hospital Limerick

UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick once again came out on top of national overcrowding figures with more than 2,000 waiting for a bed across the month of January, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

According to INMO records, there were 2,073 admitted patients waiting for a bed in University Hospital Limerick (UHL) across the month, the highest number ever recorded in the month of January by the organisation.

The next highest number was reported in Cork University Hospital (1,632).

Overcrowding figures for UHL in January stand almost double the numbers for the same period last year, when there were 1,180 people waiting for beds in the emergency department (ED) or in wards elsewhere throughout the hospital.

The numbers have increased by 873 per cent since 2009, when the EDs at St John’s, Ennis, and Nenagh hospitals were closed. That year, there were just 213 admitted patients waiting on trolleys in UHL in the month of January.

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Over 12,132 patients nationwide, including 278 children, went without a hospital bed across January, INMO report.

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that “another January has passed with hospital overcrowding remaining a serious problem in Irish hospitals. There were only three instances this month where less than 500 people were waiting on trolleys, chairs, or other inappropriate bed spaces.” 

“Hundreds of people are sick enough to be admitted to hospital each day but there is no bed for them. Some of the care environments are totally inappropriate, in some instances the care is provided on chairs. It is clear that capacity in the health system isn’t sufficient.

“We have not seen a significant drop in the number of patients on trolleys. We need more beds and we need more patient-facing staff. The HSE must agree a realistic workforce plan which provides for sufficient nurses and midwives to be employed to provide safe care and plan for more beds to open.”

Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan hit out at the government’s for its failure to tackle the ongoing crisis of capacity and overcrowding at UHL.

Commenting on the overcrowding figures, Deputy Quinlivan said: “To exceed 2,000 people treated in this manner is evidence of just how little attention has been given by this government to the trolley crisis at University Hospital Limerick.”

“I have called consistently for the Minister for Health and this government to take action to protect patients and protect staff. The steps they have taken are paltry and more needs to be done.”

The hospital has consistently apologised for the overcrowding situation and says that the issue is one of capacity and increasingly high numbers accessing the ED.