May 17, 2023
Full Capacity Protocol in use almost every day demonstrates the failure of Minister Stephen Donnelly at UHL – Maurice Quinlivan TD

Limerick Sinn Féin TD, Maurice Quinlivan, has called for more action from the government to expedite the construction of additional bed units at University Hospital Limerick.

The Sinn Féin Deputy made the call following confirmation by University Hospital Limerick that the hospital’s Full Capacity Protocol had been used for 118 days in 2023 until the end of April which means it wasn’t in operation for just two days.

Deputy Quinlivan stated:

“The details provided to me in response to a Parliamentary Question outline that as of the 30th April, the Full Capacity Protocol had been utilised for 118 out of 120 days in 2023. That means that there were only two days in 2023 when the Full Capacity Protocol was not implemented. The Full Capacity Protocol (FCP) is supposed to be an emergency measure to deal with overcrowding. It is not supposed to be used almost every day or to become the norm. It means cancelling elective procedures and aggressive discharging.

“This Protocol should be a measure of last resort for a hospital to control an unexpected spike in presentation. Its perpetual use demonstrates just how overcrowded the hospital is and how the Minister for Health has utterly failed at UHL.

“In 2022 we had over 18,000 patients treated on trolleys at University Hospital Limerick and already this year there have been 7,463 people treated on trolleys. There are not just statistics, each of these are people already anxious about attending hospital and are faced with the indignity of spending their time at the hospital in corridors with little to no privacy.”

The Sinn Féin Deputy continued:

“The capacity crisis doesn’t just impact those presenting at the Emergency Department, but it has a knock-on effect on other services including inpatient and outpatient appointments. Figures recently released also show that 2,520 appointments at the hospital have been cancelled since the beginning of the year. The dysfunction in the health service and the capacity challenges at UHL are creating a cycle of overcrowding, cancellations and waiting lists. We, in Sinn Féin, have called for a multi-annual plan to expand hospital capacity and develop a sustainable workforce.

“The staff at UHL continue to do an incredible job but they too have their limits. Last Friday nurses at the ICU at UHL began a work-to-rule industrial action. They initiated this action because they have only 75% of the necessary nurses to fill the ICU roster while 100% of ICU beds remain open.”

Concluding his remarks, Deputy Quinlivan stated:  

“We need to see steps taken by the government to expedite the construction of new bed units and address the staffing issues at the hospital. Sinn Féin in government will invest in the health service to ensure patients get the quality, timely care they need.”

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