Sinn Féin TD for Limerick Maurice Quinlivan has again called on the government to take immediate steps to address ongoing overcrowding issues at UHL.
Deputy Quinlivan made his comments following confirmation that 86 people are waiting on trolleys at University Hospital Limerick, 28 patients more than any other hospital in the state.
Teachta Quinlivan said:
“Year on year, month on month and day on day, University Hospital Limerick consistently has the highest number of patients on trolleys.
“The most recent figures provided by the INMO do not bode well for 2022, and it is not good enough for the people of Limerick and the wider midwest.
“The lifting of Covid-19 restrictions is welcome, but brings risks for the midwest’s primary hospital. I fear we will see a rise in presentations at A&E following the reopening of the late-night economy. We need to plan for this scenario.
“UHL staff have faced two years of working in the most challenging of environments and as we exit restrictions, we need to ensure that the capacity and overcrowding issues are addressed.
“It is not good enough for staff to be working in such conditions, and it is not good enough for patients either. We need to hear from the Minister for Health what plans he has to address this.
“Time and time again, I have raised this issue, not just with the Minister for Health, but with the Tánaiste and the Taoiseach. Yet still staff and patients at UHL face these conditions.
“I have written to the Minister for Health today asking him again to address this, and to meet with me, in Limerick, to visit the hospital and hear directly from the staff.
“I hope he heeds this call, and we can work on how to alleviate these stresses and strains from the staff at the hospital.
“As part of the solutions to address the overcrowding and Trolley crisis in UHL we have long been promised a new 96-bed unit. While this is not some panacea, it would be an important first step.
“Recent research in Britain indicates that there is one excess death for every 67 patients that stay in the emergency department for eight to 12 hours.
“It is believed that over 30% of patients were waiting to be discharged or admitted after waiting for more than six hours in Irish emergency departments.
“With the lifting of restrictions, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff at Limerick’s hospitals.
“These past two years will have been the most difficult of their careers. From treating those with Covid, to supporting those who could not spend their last moments with their families, they have gone above and beyond for us all.
“While we have issues at the University Hospital, we can be immensely proud of the contribution of our local health care professionals during this most challenging of periods.
“Now is the time to address the issues of capacity and overcrowding so that these staff can operate in the best environment available. They deserve no less.”