January 31, 2024
Government has failed the people of Limerick, with 2,073 people treated on trolleys at UHL in January – Maurice Quinlivan TD

Sinn Féin TD for Limerick, Maurice Quinlivan, has hit out at the government for its failure to tackle the ongoing crisis of capacity and overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick.

He made the comments after the latest INMO trolley figures showed that 2,073 people were treated on hospital trolleys at UHL in January 2024, the highest January number ever.

Teachta Quinlivan said:

“INMO figures released today show that the number of people on trolleys at University Hospital Limerick stood at 2,073. These are 2,073 people who have been deemed in need of a hospital bed and yet none was available to them.

“To exceed 2,000 people treated in this manner is evidence of just how little attention has been given, by this government, to the trolley crisis at UHL. To demonstrate how bad things have gotten, January 2023 saw 1,180 people on trolleys.

“I have called consistently on the Minister for Health and this government to take action to protect patients and protect staff. The steps they have taken are paltry.

“The scheduled 96-bed unit will only deliver 48 new beds, with the other 48 replacing beds in the nightingale ward. While the creation of additional bed spaces is welcome, the number of new beds falls far short of what is needed. Furthermore, the beds are not expected to be available until mid-2025 at the earliest.

“With the arrival of the new bed units, it is important to ensure that the nightingale unit is refitted and repurposed. While it is not fit for modern purpose in its current form, remedial work, including the construction of partitions, may allow this ward to continue to serve patients alleviating capacity issues. Everything that can be done must be done to address the severe ED overcrowding.

“The Minister for Health has had years to get to grips with this crisis and he has abjectly failed. More people were treated on trolleys this January than last January. More people were treated on trolleys in 2023 (21,000) than 2022 (18,012).

“With every month this Minister remains in position, the metrics get worse. His inaction has allowed these figures to spiral. Each statistic represents people treated in a way that is neither private nor dignified. It is not good enough for them and it is not good enough for the staff to have to continuously work in these conditions.

“Being treated on a trolley is not just some inconvenience that a patient must endure. It comes with a real risk to both patients and staff.

“Overcrowded wards and corridors can become locations in which contagious viruses can quickly spread. Such high volumes of presentations lead to elective procedures being cancelled, and staff having to work in the most challenging work environment.”