Limerick hospital capacity sparks Donnelly’s ‘expert team’ request

Overcrowding last week marked by records for the number of patients waiting on trollies

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has asked that an expert team be deployed to tackle overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

Speaking in Dublin on Wednesday, Mr Donnelly said he felt more could be done to tackle the issue of overcrowding at the hospital, which last week set new records for the number of patients on trollies, measured by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

Mr Donnelly said he was “very concerned, as is the HSE, about the length of time people are having to wait”. He said a broader piece of work is being done planning for each emergency hospital around the country – including looking at having more consultants on site outside normal hours, improving diagnostic access and utilising smaller hospital facilities.

But the situation at Limerick was such that he contacted management at UHL and yesterday spoke with the HSE about it. “I’ve asked them to provide an expert team to the hospital managers,” he said.

"It's very important to me that the management and the clinicians in University Hospital Limerick get all the support they could possibly need. So I've asked Paul Reid [HSE chief executive] to make sure that the specialist team can go in to make sure that the local teams have everything they need," he said.

Rehabilitation beds

Mr Donnelly was speaking at the opening of a new centre at Peamount Healthcare in Co Dublin. The Aberdeen Centre will provide 50 additional post-acute rehabilitation beds, which will be divided between post-acute rehabilitation beds and residential beds for older people. The facility is delivering post-acute rehabilitation services for age-related and neuro-rehabilitation patients, working with the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group, in turn supporting Tallaght University Hospital and Naas General Hospital.

Schona Schneeman, chief executive of the facility, said it would mean better patient experiences for residents and better outcomes for patients following stroke, trauma or hospitalisation. "The 15 additional neurological rehabilitation beds are a particularly important addition. As this unique service can provide a level of intensive rehab at a specialist centre that cannot be provided at an acute hospital".

Mr Donnelly also said he had spoken to Mr Reid after reports emerged that Minister of State for Disabilities Anne Rabbitte had not been facilitated in a request she made to meet managers of disability services.

“I had a very professional and constructive conversation with Paul Reid yesterday to ensure the meetings Minister Rabbitte is looking for would happen, and of course Paul Reid said there would be no problem whatsoever”