Dáil told of ‘utter chaos’ in overcrowded Limerick hospital
Hospital was like ‘scenes after a major national disaster’ without the national disaster
Staff in Limerick said the hospital repeatedly failed to adhere to national emergency department escalation policy and ‘remains in full capacity protocol’, the Dáil was told.
The Dáil has been told of scenes of “utter chaos” at University Hospital Limerick which on Wednesday had a record 92 people waiting on trolleys.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Pearse Doherty said photos of the hospital which appeared in the Irish Examiner were like “scenes in a hospital after a major national disaster but there is no national disaster”.
He added that “the scenes of people lying on trolleys in hospital corridors are becoming all too common”. Wards were being closed while 531 people across the country were on trolleys across the country waiting for beds, he said.
Staff in Limerick said the hospital repeatedly failed to adhere to national emergency department escalation policy and “remains in full capacity protocol”.
But a 17-bed ward remained closed despite the 91 people on trolleys. The extra “winter funding” had not had any impact on the hospital’s problems and “it amounts to an unsafe hospital”.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the number of people waiting on trolleys for hospital admissions was at its lowest level for five years, in the first quarter of this year.
He acknowledged that there were some hospitals and staff were under severe pressure and “nobody wants to belittle that pressure” but he said the overall figures were lower than at any point in years.
The Government was investing in more beds and facilities as well as dealing with current pressures to have greater efficiency in management systems, he told Mr Doherty, who said there was “utter chaos” in University Hospital Limerick on Wednesday with 81 patients on trolleys in the morning rising to a record 92 by midday.
He said that “earlier in the week there were serious problems in Cork University Hospital and there are still significant problems with the number of people on trolleys there today”.
Mr Coveney accepted there were significant difficulties in Limerick, Cork and Galway’s main hospitals.
He said in Cork University Hospital there were 25 patients on trolleys on Thursday, down from 41 on Wednesday and 55 from Tuesday “so they have got on top of an unacceptable situation”.
He said the hospital trolley numbers had dropped in the first quarter of this year to the lowest level in five years.
The 17-bed ward had been closed to develop a fracture unit which would help cut waiting times and 22 beds had been opened elsewhere in the hospital to offset the closure.
He said the Government was dealing with the issue but it was taking time. They were investing in increased capacity and improved efficiency in management systems and they had to work at both.