May 2, 2024
HIQA Report underlines need for urgent capacity expansion in Limerick and Midwest emergency care services – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has called on the Government to end the dangerous recruitment embargo and fast-track 288 additional beds for University Hospital Limerick to get ahead of the constant crisis in the emergency department.

He said that urgent government action is required to address the health crisis in Limerick and the Mid West.

The TD for Waterford noted that Sinn Féin will be launching its plan to fix Midwest health services tomorrow morning.

The plan will outline a number of measures across the hospital, community services, primary care, and GP services that are needed to resolve the crisis at University Hospital Limerick.

It includes a commitment to establish the full need for emergency department capacity in the region, review the closures of Ennis and Nenagh emergency departments, and determine the safest configuration of services into the future which factors in population growth.

Teachta Cullinane was responding to the publication of a HIQA inspection report into University Hospital Limerick, having separately raised the issue with the Minister for Health in the Dáil this morning, which found that the hospital was only partially or non-compliant with three of four relevant national standards which were assessed.

The report identified the need for additional bed capacity at the hospital as well as improvements in patient management, especially management of safety risks. 

Teachta Cullinane said:

“The latest HIQA inspection of University Hospital Limerick has again demonstrated that the hospital is severely constrained by a lack of bed capacity both in the hospital and in the community.  The hospital is routinely overcrowded, which is degrading, not compliant with a human-rights approach to care, and strips patients of their dignity.  The report clearly identifies significant and severe patient safety risks, which are not being effectively managed. 

“The HIQA report is yet another clarion call for urgent action to expand capacity and improve management of safety risks at the hospital.  The hospital is also severely challenged by a lack of alternative care options and step-down facilities in local communities, which would decrease pressure on the hospital if made available.

“Tomorrow morning, Sinn Féin will be launching our plan to fix Midwest health services. Maurice Quinlivan TD and I will launch that plan, which will outline our commitments to end the recruitment embargo, invest in 288 additional inpatient beds, review the closure of Ennis and Nenagh emergency departments, establish the full need for additional ED capacity in the region, and determine the safest configuration of emergency services on the basis of best practice and clinical evidence.  It will also outline a series of measures across primary, community, and hospital services that are needed to deliver safe, quality, human rights-compliant care in the Midwest.

“The Government should end the recruitment embargo, urgently fund and fast-track 288 additional inpatient beds for the Midwest to end overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick and get ahead of the problem.  Government is constantly falling behind which has allowed overcrowding to spiral dangerously.  Government must also fund additional step-down and community nursing beds, as well as home care, in the region to provide more discharge options.  Investment is needed across home care, GP services, out-of-hours services, and extended Pharmacy hours and services to reduce pressure on the emergency department.  All of these measures are needed to improve patient flow in and out of the hospital, reduce presentations at the emergency department, and provide better quality care closer to home.

“Urgent government action is required to address the health crisis in Limerick and the Mid West.  Short-term sticking plasters will not deliver the change that is needed, and which the people of the Midwest deserve.”

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