Fresh Appeal To Leave ED For Emergencies Following Record-Equaling Trolley Numbers

University Hospital Limerick emergency department

The UL Hospitals Group has reiterated it’s appeal to the public, not to attend the ED at the region’s main hospital unless it’s an emergency.

It comes as the latest INMO figures show 81 patients were left waiting for beds at University Hospital Limerick this morning – the joint-highest figure ever recorded at the hospital.


According to INMO figures, 44 patients were waiting for a bed in the Emergency Department of University Hospital Limerick today, with a further 37 accommodated on overflow areas of wards.

The combined figure of 81 is the joint-highest ever recorded at any Irish hospital, matching figures recorded in Limerick in April and in July.

Nurses say this September has already become the worst on record, even though there’s still a week remaining in the month and have called on the HSE to make a high-level intervention and curtail services among other measures.

National funding has been released in recent days to address delayed discharges, but the UL Hospital Group says despite this, these remain above average, with 34 delayed discharges across UL Hospitals Group today.

They say high patient volumes are also partly to blame for the high levels of overcrowding, with a significant proportion requiring isolation, which impacts on patient flow.

They’re once again urging people not to attend the ED unless it’s an emergency and to go to your GP or GP out of hours services first or the injury unit at Ennis General Hospital, where possible.

Statement From The UL Hospitals Group

THE Emergency Department at University Hospital Limerick is one of the busiest in the country and has been experiencing high numbers of presentations in recent days, including many frail elderly patients.

We regret that admitted patients have experienced long wait times in ED for a bed to become available. This is not the level of service we or the staff working in UL Hospitals Group wish to provide however we want to reassure our the public that every patient in ED continues to receive expert medical care and every effort is made to make their stay as comfortable as possible.

Among the reasons for the long waits for admission are high patient volumes, a significant proportion of whom require isolation. It is acknowledged that UHL does not have adequate isolation facilities and this unfortunately impacts on patient flow.

UL Hospitals Group acknowledges the release of national funding in recent days to address delayed discharges from the Group. However, these remain above average with 34 delayed discharges across UL Hospitals Group as of Monday, September 23rd. All available surge capacity is currently in use and appropriate patients are currently being transferred to Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s hospitals.

Bed capacity at UHL remains considerably below that of comparable hospitals in Ireland. 455 inpatient beds is not sufficient for the needs of the MidWest region. Construction has commenced on a 60-bed block at UHL, which we expect to open in Q4 of 2020.

The ED at UHL has designated spaces for 49 patients. Admitted patients waiting for a bed are often in single rooms or designated bays. A number of these patients will have en suite facilities to meet their IP&C needs.

Overcrowding is a whole-health service issue and not an issue strictly for the ED or hospital system. A multi-faceted approach is required to tackle overcrowding, encompassing additional bed capacity, improved patient flow, and the development of integrated care programmes with community services – all of which are being addressed by UL Hospitals Group. We recognise the importance of a group wide focus on management of patient pathways and continue to use our existing bed stock efficiently across all our hospitals.

Measures are ongoing to relieve pressure on the UHL Emergency Department. We continue to work with our colleagues in the community to progress transition of appropriate patients to the community, and to maximise the use of beds available across the sites of the Hospitals Group.

Local Injury Units (LIUs) at Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s Hospitals are open for treatment of broken bones, dislocations, sprains, strains, wounds, scalds and minor burns. In 2018, Injury Unit presentation totalled 32,244 or 31% of all ED attendances, and attendances at the LIUs increased by 6% on 2017 (30,424).

UL Hospitals Group reiterates its appeal for the public to use the Emergency Department for emergencies only, and to consider all care options before attending the ED. People should first attend a GP or an out-of-hours GP service, where they can be referred to an Assessment Unit the following day if required.

The Hospitals Group’s Local Injury Units at Ennis Hospital and Nenagh Hospital are open 8am-8pm every day, and at St John’s Hospital in Limerick from Monday to Friday, 8am-6pm.

However, if you are seriously injured or ill, or are worried that your life is at risk, the ED will assess and treat you as a priority.
Nursing Recruitment:

There is no moratorium in place with regard to nursing recruitment. However, there is a requirement to employ within funded vacancies.

UL Hospitals Group have recruited 68 staff in the last five weeks, 48 of whom are graduate nurses and midwives.