Almost 2,000 on trolleys in UHL across March as HSE executive officer acknowledges ‘reasonable argument’ for reopening Ennis ED

Overcrowding at the emergency department in UHL

UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick (UHL) was again the most overcrowded hospital in the country in March, with all but double the numbers of the next most crowded facility.

According to the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Trolley Watch count, there were 1,961 admitted patients waiting for a bed in UHL in March, compared to 1,079 in the next most overcrowded hospital, Cork University Hospital.

The figures were published just days after the newly-appointed HSE Mid West Regional Executive Officer Sandra Broderick acknowledged there is a reasonable argument for re-opening a second emergency department (ED) for the region.

There was not a day last month when UHL was not the country’s most overcrowded hospital, according to INMO figures, with the daily number of admitted patients on trolleys topping the 100 mark on 10 occasions.

However the hospital did see a decrease in figures on the same month last year, when there were 2,080 people waiting for a in-hospital bed.

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This March figures are almost four times what they were in 2014, when there were 499 people waiting for beds.

It marked an 885 per cent increase on 2009 figures, when the three EDs in John’s, Ennis, and Nenagh hospitals closed.

At a recent meeting with the Friends of Ennis Hospital group, Ms Broderick has said she acknowledged the group’s argument in reopening the Ennis ED as valid.

At the meeting, arranged by Deputy Cathal Crowe (FF), the Friends of Ennis Hospital discussed with Ms Broderick topics including Shannondoc, the shortage of GPs in the region, the National Ambulance Service, the planned increase in hours for the MAU in Ennis, and the current situation in UHL.

They also presented a briefing document outlining the case for Ennis  Hospital to be restored to a Model 3, which would include the reopening of its emergency department.

“The closure of the 3 EDs in Ennis, Nenagh, and St John’s, and planned reconfiguration of services in 2009, has failed and we think that has been accepted by all concerned,” a statement from the group said.

“It was acknowledged at the meeting that the provision of an emergency department cannot be safely provided in a Model 2 hospital and there is neither the political will nor the finances available to upgrade all three hospitals to Model 3 status.

“Ms Broderick did acknowledge in our meeting with her that our briefing document does make a compelling case for the restoration of services in County Clare,” the group said.