Crowding in A&E a problem, says HSE

No new emergency department for University Hospital Limerick

HSE director general Tony O’Brien’s comments come after overcrowding in hospital emergency departments was described as “unequivocally dangerous for patients” by emergency medicine specialists.

HSE director general Tony O’Brien’s comments come after overcrowding in hospital emergency departments was described as “unequivocally dangerous for patients” by emergency medicine specialists.

Thu, Jan 23, 2014, 01:01


The head of the HSE has accepted the clear association between overcrowding in emergency departments and the quality of care that patients can be given.

Speaking in Limerick yesterday, HSE director general Tony O’Brien also revealed that there will be no new emergency department at University Hospital Limerick for two years.

His comments come after overcrowding in hospital emergency departments was described as “unequivocally dangerous for patients” by emergency medicine specialists.

The significant concerns are contained in a letter from the Irish Emergency Medicine Trainees’ Association, signed by 24 of its members, to the Health Information and Quality Authority watchdog, and copied to the Health Service Executive.


‘Clearly an association’
“I think there is clearly an association between overcrowding in emergency departments and the quality of care that can be given,” Mr O’Brien said. “It is important to stress that we have nonetheless seen very significant improvements in the way hospitals nationally are dealing with emergency care.

“The overall numbers on trollies at 8am each morning are significantly lower than what they were about three years ago – a 34 per cent improvement.”

According to Mr O’Brien the increase in the first few weeks of the year is not untypical and is something the HSE “strives to minimise”.

“I think the important thing to stress is each of the hospitals is making progress. The number is lower today nationally speaking and indeed in the hospital here [University Hospital Limerick] there was a peak on the 9th of January which hasn’t been repeated.”

Mr O’Brien insisted that services operating in the community are as important in the management of the acute care needs of patients as the hospitals themselves.

The HSE general director was visiting primary care facilities in Limerick and meeting clients and staff to see how services are developing in the midwest.