Simon Harris told to spend €91million on University Hospital Limerick

The soon-to-be Taoiseach Simon Harris was called on to invest further in University Hospital Limerick.

LIMERICK City and County Council passed a motion from Labour councillor Conor Sheehan calling on the soon-to-be Taoiseach, Simon Harris, to sanction €91million in funding for extra staff and resources at University Hospital Limerick (UHL), and to chair a UHL taskforce “to address deficits in care and services” at the hospital.

Cllr Sheehan said that a taskforce led by the incoming Taoiseach Simon Harris, that includes the HSE, Department of Health, and local hospital management, is required immediately “because UHL is consistently the most overcrowded hospital in the State and every year its breaks its own records for overcrowding”.

He described the persistent overcrowding at UHL as “inhumane” and highlighted how his 87-year-old grandfather “spent 100 hours on a trolley” at the hospital last January.

“No elderly person should be treated in this manner, it is inhumane and everywhere I knock on doors, people tell me they are terrified of ending up in our local A&E. That is shocking in a supposedly wealthy country.”

Cllr Sheehan said a €91m government fund “would bring UHL up to the national average for a Model 4 Hospital”.

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He said these figures were previously provided by “the former chief clinical director at the hospital, Dr Gerry Burke, who analysed funding from the Department of Health and the HSE to the six hospital groups in the State”.

“That was more than five years ago, and at the time then opposition TDs and now prominent backbenchers, who are very vocal on certain issues and who correctly raised this at the time, have gone virtually silent,” said Cllr Sheehan.

Representatives of management at UL Hospitals Group have said a number of occasions that it requires hundreds more beds to help tackle overcrowding at UHL. A 96-bed unit, currently being built on the site of the hospital, is to be completed next year, and planning has been approved for a second 96 bed unit.

The motion comes in the wake of sudden deaths of a number of patients at UHL during periods of sustained overcrowding which are being reviewed internally by the group.

One of those who died, 16-year-old Aoife Johnston, is the subject of an independent investigation by retired Chief Justice Frank Clarke, who has sought more time to complete his report into the Shannon teenager’s death on December 19, 2022.

An unpublished internal systems analysis report (SAR) in respect of Ms Johnston’s death found that she had waited 12 hours to be treated for sepsis in UHL’s emergency department 48 hours before she died.