Arid Environment

New overcrowding record at Limerick hospital as 126 patients on trolleys

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization (INMO) has called for an emergency plan after record overcrowding was reported in Limerick.

The INMO has said that 126 patients are on trolleys in University Hospital Limerick (UHL), the highest number of patient overcrowding in any Irish hospital since the union began its TrolleyWatch in 2006.

The union said the level of overcrowding “is dangerous for patients and staff and requires an immediate hospital group-wide response.”

It has called for an emergency plan to be activated in UHL, saying that the system is broken.

“The fact that we are seeing a record number of patients on trolleys in University Hospital Limerick on April 21 means that the bed management system is completely broken,” said INMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations, Mary Fogarty.

“The INMO has been sounding the alarm on issues within UHL for years. We need to see the emergency plan activated for the hospital this morning and a public announcement of the same.

“Hospital management need to urgently stop admitting patients for elective care as there are no beds within the hospital. The system is completely congested.”

The INMO said the number of patients waiting for beds in UHL makes up more than 28% of the total number of patients on trolleys across the country today.

The second worst-hit hospital is St Lukes General Hospital in Kilkenny with 40 patients on trolleys followed by Cork University Hospital with 33.

Staff burnout

Ms Fogarty said that staff at UHL are reporting “significant work-related stress” due to the “persistent” overcrowding.

“They are exhausted and burnt out. As well as trying to deal with a completely unsafe environment they are also dealing with public dissatisfaction and impatience with the situation in the hospital.

“They also have serious concerns for the safety of patients and have advised management repeatedly of the same.”

She has called on senior HSE management and the Minister for Health to “urgently act on what is a chaotic situation for the people of the Midwest”.

“This complete mismanagement is unacceptable and is having real consequences on the health outcomes of patients who find themselves without a bed in an extremely busy hospital while an airborne virus is still extremely prevalent.

“Private hospitals need to be urgently engaged by the HSE to address the waiting times for elective surgery and St John’s Hospital in the Limerick City needs urgent expansion to provide high level of surgery in the Midwest.

“The situation in UHL has been allowed to fester for far too long. We need to see real, meaningful short, medium, and long-term action. Patients, nurses, midwives, and the wider hospital community deserve so much better.”

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