Sinn Féin TD Violet-Anne Wynne has expressed serious concern at the ongoing overcrowding and understaffing in University Hospital Limerick.
She said that, according to INMO Trolley Watch data collated and analysed by the Irish Patients Association, UHL has consistently been one of the worst performing Hospital Groups for trolley numbers which lays bare a failure by Government to invest in healthcare for West, Mid-West, and North-West of Ireland.
Teachta Wynne said:
“Last week, UHL Emergency Department was in joined second place for the highest number of patients being accommodated on trolleys of all hospitals across the country.
“Over the month of October, UHL saw 1,349 patients on trolleys – making it the most overcrowded and under-resourced hospital in the state.
“Coupled with the fact that we know that there are a number of healthcare professionals unable to work at the moment – it’s a recipe for disaster. This number has almost doubled in the last 10 days to 3,500, which is undoubtedly going to have a negative impact on patient care.
“Despite the significant allocations each year since 2019 to increase capacity at UHL, the situation hasn’t improved. This shows that the Government’s fire-fighting tactics of resolving the failures of our health system simply are not working.
“Budget 2020 didn’t work. Budget 2021 didn’t work. We have no reason to believe that Budget 2022 is going to deliver the deep structural reform needed to provide high-quality, affordable and timely health care to the people of Ireland.
“That is not a reflection on the trojan work of staff, but a failure of Government to address acute capacity deficiencies in these hospitals.
“Throughout the month of October the average number of Emergency Department Presentations was 256, with a record-breaking high of 310 on day alone.
“Over the last few weeks, only Beaumont and Connolly Hospitals managed without patients on trolleys for the last month which shows the desperate state of our hospitals due to underinvestment. As of this week Ennis General Hospital also featured on this ‘Honours List’ of trolley free hospitals as compiled by the Irish Patient’s Association.
“This lack of beds is a serious concern for a number of reasons. Firstly, it means that patients presenting at Emergency Departments are forced to wait on trolleys, which causes massive stress on an already overly extended workforce, and especially during Covid, exposes staff to unnecessary risk.
“Healthcare professionals are desperately calling out for their booster shots to mitigate this risk and the Government need to step up and ensure that they can access their third shot as soon as possible.
“Secondly, it means that scheduled care – such as vital surgeries – are being cancelled to free up beds for emergency care.
“Thirdly, with the worrying situation of Covid-19 in our hospitals, this is putting more pressure on ICU capacity and exposing more patients and staff to Covid outbreaks due to unsafe working conditions in hospitals.
“This lays bare the absolute failure of Government to invest in the regions to tackle healthcare inequality in the last decade – and, indeed, they did not provide for one additional inpatient acute bed in Budget 2022 meaning they do not intend to solve this problem.
“This has been ongoing for years and underlines how this Government have left the West, and Clare in particular behind through short-sightedness and not taking appropriate action to maintain levels of practicing GPs and through the curtailment of Shannondoc services.
“It is clear that this Government is out of touch and out of ideas. Throwing money at the HSE to no one’s benefit and one ineffective ‘escalation plan’ after another – that is becoming increasingly clear.”