Former HSE boss says Limerick has just one third of the number of emergency consultants needed

University Hospital Limerick

UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick has just one third of the number of emergency medicine consultants it needs, according to former HSE boss Tony O’Brien.

Despite repeated government assurances that UHL has more emergency medicine consultants than any other hospital in the country, the former HSE Director General says it’s not nearly enough in light of recommended standards.

Writing an opinion column in the Sunday Independent newspaper this past week, Mr O’Brien hit out that “the Royal College of Emergency Medicine states there should be one emergency medical consultant for every 3,600-4,000 ED (emergency department) presentations per year”.

“Last year, Limerick had 80,113 A&E attendances, plus another 40,704 in its local injury units. A&E attendances are up 12 per cent in the first four months of this year,” Mr O’Brien wrote.

The former HSE boss explained that in light of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine’s recommended standards, Limerick should have somewhere between 31.5 and 35 whole-time equivalent consultants for emergency medicine, not the 11.5 it currently has (while still being the highest number in the country).

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“Even if local injury unit patients were excluded,” Mr O’Brien wrote, “the number of EM consultants required is twice the number.”

The former health boss says that increasing population, changing age demographics, and an influx of people fleeing the war in Ukraine have all contributed to an upsurge in demand for the service.

“The political mantra that Limerick’s troubles are hard to understand when they have ‘so many’ ED consultants looks a tiny bit pathetic when tested on an evidence-informed basis,” he said.