Sinn Féin TD for Limerick, Maurice Quinlivan, has called on the government to address the ever-increasing trolley numbers at University Hospital Limerick, adding that the capacity challenges are a year-round problem.
Deputy Quinlivan made the comments as today’s trolley numbers demonstrated that a total of 1824 people were treated on trolleys in UHL this month, meaning 556 more people have been treated on trolleys and hospital corridors this July than were treated during the same period last year.
Teachta Quinlivan said:
“The trolley figures for July show that 556 more people were treated on trolleys in UHL this July than in July of 2022.
“The year-to-date figures show us that as of 31st July 2022, 11,124 people had been treated on hospital trolleys and we have already exceeded that number in 2023 by 663.
“Under the current government and this Minister for Health the metrics have headed in one direction, the wrong direction.
“If the current figures continue, we will far exceed the numbers that were treated on trolleys last year. Last year over 18,000 people were treated on trolleys at University Hospital Limerick.
“When we speak of trolley numbers it is easy to get lost in the statistics. It is important to remember that each and every one of these numbers represent people. People who have had to present to hospital and must endure treatment without privacy or dignity.
“Previous spikes in numbers have been explained as winter surges but we have these huge numbers in the middle of the summer. For one to be treated on a trolley in a hospital hallway is not good enough, for 1824 to be treated on trolleys in one month is unacceptable.
“I continue to urge the government to expedite the construction of the new 96-bed unit and for this to be quickly followed by two other units that have been committed to. These constructions must happen as a priority.
“The issues at UHL are persistent and show very little sign of improving. The patients and staff at University Hospital Limerick are reaching their limit. There is only so much our medical professionals can do when they are continually having to treat patients in conditions that are not appropriate.
“While the June HIQA report into UHL demonstrated that some of the concerns HIQA previously highlighted are being addressed, there continues a crisis of capacity.
“The trolley numbers don’t just impact those who are being treated, they impact the doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who have to treat those patients. These massive numbers impact the ability of the hospital to meet its outpatient appointments.
“These current conditions cannot be allowed to continue in perpetuity. This government has allowed this crisis in our health service and at UHL to drift for too long. There is an immediate need to increase capacity at the hospital and to recruit additional medical professionals.
“We remain significantly short of the number of non-consultant hospital doctors needed to ensure the smooth running of a busy hospital. The UHL Emergency Department doesn’t have the capacity to cater for all presentations.”