Increasing numbers adding to pressure at University Hospital Limerick

INMO: 512 patients on trolleys or wards waiting for a bed nationally on Tuesday

University Hospital Limerick (UHL) says large number of surgical cases and frail, elderly patients with complex needs have increased pressure on services, as 69 patients waited for admission on Tuesday.

The hospital has begun transferring suitable patients to other hospitals in its group, and to community care, as part of measures to relieve pressure on the emergency department.

There were 512 patients on trolleys or on wards waiting for admission to a hospital bed nationally on Tuesday, according to figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

The figures are down on the same day last year, when 643 patients were waiting for admission to a hospital bed.


The worst affected hospitals were UHL, Cork University Hospital with 52 patients waiting for admission and University Hospital Galway with 43.

UHL has asked the public to consider “all of their care options” before presenting at the hospital emergency department, including GPs and local injury units.

A spokesman said the hospital’s 450 inpatient beds was recognised as not being sufficient for the needs of the mid-west region.

“The Group welcomes the commitment to increasing bed capacity at UHL. Overall bed capacity remains considerably below comparable hospitals in Ireland and UL Hospitals continues to use its existing bed stock efficiently.”

No confidence

Delays in the provision of a promised new 60-bed unit at UHL have prompted Clare TD and chairman of the Oireachtas health committee Dr Michael Harty to support a Sinn Féin vote of no confidence in Minister for Health Simon Harris in the Dáil on Wednesday.

“This morning’s shocking news that the urgently needed 60 bed modular unit at University Hospital Limerick has been delayed until at least mid 2020 is a betrayal of trust and of the people of the mid-west by government,” Dr Harty said on Tuesday.

Labour health spokesperson Alan Kelly described the numbers of people on trolleys as unacceptable.

“The INMO have not recorded a day where there has been less than 250 people on trolleys. We should not have to accept these kind of figures as the new normal.

The Government promised UHL’s new unit would be open by the end of this year, but now it would not be open until the middle of 2020 at least, he said.

However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the hospital project “will proceed to construction this year”.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times