Sinn Féin TD for Limerick Maurice Quinlivan has called on the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to immediately address the overcrowding at emergency departments at University Hospital Limerick.
Teachta Quinlivan made the comments in the Dáil last night while discussing the findings of the Report of the Independent Review of Unscheduled Care Performance.
Teachta Quinlivan said:
“Many of the issues that were highlighted in the ground-breaking report remain. The emergency department wait times in 2022 look like they will reach pre-Covid levels, with more than 51,000 patients already waiting longer than 12 hours in an emergency department this year, while a whopping 13,000 patients have already waited more than 24 hours for admission.
“These are incredible numbers when you consider the research report by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine in Britain, which noted that there is, on average, one excess death per every 67 patients of those who stay in an emergency department for eight to 12 hours.
“The Report of the Independent Review of Unscheduled Care Performance Report was completed in 2019 but was not published.
“The report reviewed emergency care in nine hospitals and details unsafe treatment being caused by long waiting times, overcrowding and staff shortages.
“I am particularly concerned about the plight of patients and staff at University Hospital Limerick. It is a hospital that continues to have huge numbers of people treated on trolleys and in corridors; almost 1,600 each month of 2022.
“Despite the best efforts of the great but overworked staff, the issues of long wait times and treatment on hospital trolleys continue unchecked.
“I spoke to a senior staff member at the hospital today and they gave me a first-hand shocking account of just how tragically challenging their jobs have become.
“That staff member contacted me in desperation at how difficult a work environment they and the work colleagues are facing. I have absolutely no doubt that people are dying unnecessarily due to these failures.
“I was informed yesterday evening that there was only one ECG machine available across the three wards in the ED. Apparently, the other machines are broken.
“These are important but really basic pieces of equipment that should be readily available to staff. It is a major hospital and has just one ECG machine for the emergency department, which is simply not good enough to me, the staff, or to the people of Limerick.
“The Minister for Health has an abundance of challenges facing him, but he seems to be getting nowhere fast. I have appealed to him and I do so again to expedite the construction of the 96-bed unit at UHL.
“While it will not solve the problems of the hospital, it would be an important signal to the people of Limerick that they are not being abandoned, ignored, and that the government is committed to rectifying the problems at UHL.”