January 26, 2023
Open letter by UHL consultants further exposes need for government intervention – Maurice Quinlivan TD

Sinn Féin TD for Limerick, Maurice Quinlivan, has said that the publication of a letter by 87 consultants regarding conditions at UHL is further evidence of the need for direct and immediate government intervention at the hospital.

Teachta Quinlivan said:

“This letter from consultants published today, following so quickly following last weekend’s huge protest, is further evidence that an immediate intervention is needed to address the litany of issues at University Hospital Limerick.

“The letter is extremely welcome but concerning. The consultants point to an increasingly demoralised staff that is resulting in ongoing problems with recruitment and retention at the hospital.

“The open letter, submitted by 87 consultants at UHL, highlighted the extreme levels of overcrowding and relentless demand on their services over a period of 10 years. The letter highlighted that the UL Hospitals Group is not adequately resourced to deal with the volume of emergency presentations.

“The ongoing issues originate from the Fianna Fáil’s Government decision in 2009. As stated by the consultants, this caused a ‘poorly resourced reconfiguration of hospital services in the midwest and the failure to deliver the 640 beds needed to support this reconfiguration were never delivered’.

“In 2022, there were over 79,000 presentations at the ED at UHL. The Emergency Department, when built in 2017, was designed for a maximum attendance of 190 patients per day. 

“The consultants note that there are over 240 patients seen at the ED every day. This is not sustainable, particularly when one considers that there are only 530 in-patient beds in the unit. UL Hospital Group management have acknowledged that they need at least 200 more beds to simply meet the national average.

“This crisis is a result of failures at government level. A failure to deliver on the number of beds and staffing needed to cope with the closure of other A&Es. Indeed, the letter notes that the required capacity at UHL, the withdrawal of direct emergency hospital care at Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s Hospitals were detrimental.

“I commend these health professionals for raising their concerns in such a public way, I’m sure most of them would prefer to focus on delivering proper healthcare than having to publicise the problems in UHL in the media. 

“The staff at UHL work in very challenging circumstances and this cannot be allowed to continue. Working in these cramped conditions is neither good for our health professionals or for the care and dignity of patients.

“I support the call of these 87 consultants in their request for urgent intervention and for increasing the use of our model two hospitals in a safe and clinically effective manner. 

“Following the weekend’s protest, it is no longer tenable for the Minister for Health to dismiss the legitimate concerns of the people and hospital professionals in the MidWest.”

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