Limerick hospital ‘closing beds’ as trolley numbers near record levels

UHL had 76 patients waiting for admission this morning as new facilities are delayed

 

University Hospital Limerick, the State’s most overcrowded hospital, plans to close a ward even as trolley numbers hit near-record levels.

There were 76 patients waiting for admission in the emergency department at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) on Wednesday morning, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

This is the second highest daily trolley total since 80 patients waited for admission to UHL on one day in March 2018.

Today’s total includes 54 patients waiting for admission in the emergency department and 22 elsewhere on wards in the hospital, according to the INMO’s daily TrolleyWatch count.

The union has strongly criticised plans by hospital management to close an inpatient ward, with the loss of 17 funded beds. The beds facing closure are primarily for the treatment of medical patients who require short periods of admission.

The INMO says it learned of the plans in recent weeks. It wrote to chief executive Colette Cowan earlier this month objecting to the loss of capacity but says management has refused to review the decision.

“Limerick is the most overcrowded hospital in the country. Overcrowding is endemic and we already see unacceptable numbers of patients forced to wait without a proper bed,” said INMO industrial relations officer for Limerick, Mary Fogarty. “It simply does not make sense to close further beds when faced with such a problem. We need to be going in the opposite direction.”

UHL Hospital Group said the ward was being closed to facilitate the completion of works on a new fracture unit. Offsetting the closure, three new cardiology beds opened last week and 12-bed, four day a week unit may operate full-time “once appropriate resources are in place”.

Attendances at emergency departments traditionally surge after bank holiday weekends, and the TrolleyWatch count for Wednesday shows an increase to 557 patients waiting for admissions in hospitals across the State.

UHL, which has 450 beds and is the only emergency department for the mid-west region, has suffered chronic overcrowding in recent years. A new 60-bed block that would take some of the pressure off the emergency department was scheduled to be built by the end of next year, but concerns for the project have been raised as a result of the massive cost overrun on the national children’s hospital.

The Department of Health said 23 additional beds have been opened in Limerick over the past 18 months. In recent weeks, €2million has been allocated to facilitate the completion of enabling works for the 60-bed modular ward in 2019, a spokeswoman said.

Funding has also been provided to progress the design phase of a 96-bed replacement block, she added.

The next most crowded hospital on Wednesday was Cork University Hospital, with 41 patients waiting for admission.

Overall, this winter has proved less problematic than forecast due to mild weather and a quiet flu season, which has already ended.University Hospital Limerick, the State’s most overcrowded hospital, plans to close a ward even as trolley numbers hit near-record levels, according to nurses.

There were 76 patients waiting for admission in the emergency department at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) on Wednesday morning, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

This is the second highest daily trolley total since 80 patients waited for admission to UHL on one day in March 2018.

Today’s total includes 54 patients waiting for admission in the emergency department and 22 elsewhere on wards in the hospital, according to the INMO’s daily TrolleyWatch count.

The union has strongly criticised plans by hospital management to close an inpatient ward, with the loss of 17 funded beds. The beds facing closure are primarily for the treatment of medical patients who require short periods of admission.

The INMO says it learned of the plans in recent weeks. It wrote to chief executive Colette Cowen earlier this month objecting to the loss of capacity but says management has refused to review the decision.

“Limerick is the most overcrowded hospital in the country. Overcrowding is endemic and we already see unacceptable numbers of patients forced to wait without a proper bed,” said INMO industrial relations officer for Limerick, Mary Fogarty. “It simply does not make sense to close further beds when faced with such a problem. We need to be going in the opposite direction.”

UHL Hospital Group said the ward was being closed to facilitate the completion of works on a new fracture unit. Offsetting the close, three new cardiology beds opened last week and 12-bed, four day a week unit may operate full-time “once appropriate resources are in place”.

Attendances at emergency departments traditionally surge after bank holiday weekends, and the TrolleyWatch count for Wednesday shows an increase to 557 patients waiting for admissions in hospitals across the State.

UHL, which has 450 beds and is the only emergency department for the mid-west region, has suffered chronic overcrowding in recent years. A new 60-bed block that would take some of the pressure off the emergency department was scheduled to be built by the end of next year, but concerns for the project have been raised as a result of the massive cost overrun on the national children’s hospital.

The Department of Health said 23 additional beds have been opened in Limerick over the past 18 months. In recent weeks, €2million has been allocated to facilitate the completion of enabling works for the 60-bed modular ward in 2019, a spokeswoman said.

Funding has also been provided to progress the design phase of a 96-bed replacement block, she added.

The next most crowded hospital on Wednesday was Cork University Hospital, with 41 patients waiting for admission.

Overall, this winter has proved less problematic than forecast due to mild weather and a quiet flu season, which has already ended.