Campaigners told no change coming at UHL as inquiry takes place into death of 16-year-old girl

University Hospital Limerick

AS NEWS broke of another inquiry into the death of a 16-year-old who died at University Hospital Limerick, campaigners who went before the Dáil to ask for the reopening of the Mid West’s other emergency department were told told that their calls were in vain – in the name of patient safety.

The irony of the unsigned response is not lost on the members of the Mid West Hospital Campaign (MWHC), who appeared before a hearing of the Dáil Petitions Committee last week.

It was revealed today (Monday) that a preliminary assessment was carried out into the circumstances around the death of a 16-year-old girl who passed away at the hospital three weeks ago.

There were 113 patients on trolleys in corridors and wards at the hospital on the day the girl died, January 29.

It is the second internal inquiry into the death of a teenage girl at UHL in as many years, after Aoife Johnston, from Shannon, County Clare, died after languishing on a trolley for 12 hours in the overcrowded emergency department (ED) in UHL in December 2022.

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Responding to reports of the inquiry, a spokesman for UL Hospitals Group said that it was in “direct contact with the family” of the young girl, and expressed the group’s “sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of the patient concerned on their devastating loss”.

“We can confirm that a preliminary assessment has been carried out in line with the HSE Incident Management Framework. This is our normal practice where a sudden death occurs in our care. The findings from this assessment will be shared with the family pending the results of a post-mortem examination.’

The hospital spokesman said that “it would be inappropriate to comment further”.

Noleen Moran of the MWHC told the Limerick Post that it is “unbelievable that we have heard of another death just as we are debating a reply following our appearance at the committee, which says nothing will change and the number one reason for this is consideration of a patient safety”.

The campaign gathered more that 15,000 signatures for their petition to re-open the emergency departments at St John’s, Ennis, and Nenagh Hospitals, and to site or develop a new model three hospital in the Mid West region.

On the day of the Dáil meeting, none of the invited parties – including Health Minister Simon Harris – who had been invited to appear before the petitions committee alongside the campaigners turned up.

“Now we have an unsigned response saying, in writing, that they are refusing to change their policy. They say they don’t have the through-put for a model three hospital. Yet UHL dealt with 80,130 attendances at ED last year – 10,000 more than the hospital is capable of handling.

“The people who sent this response, and don’t even have the conviction to put a name to it, are completely out of touch with the reality on the ground in the Mid West.

“Now we have another bereaved family, another death, It’s completely unacceptable,” Ms Moran said.