Ennis Councillor Criticises Clare’s Oireachtas Members Over UHL Trolley Crisis

An Ennis Fine Gael Councillor is criticising Clare’s seven Oireachtas members for not ‘kicking and screaming’ about the overcrowding crisis at the region’s main hospital.

Yesterday, nurses at University Hospital Limerick recorded the highest ever number of patients waiting for a bed of any hospital in the country since records began.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives organisation reported 126 were waiting for a bed at UHL as of yesterday morning, however the UL Hospitals Group says that only 85 were on trolleys outside of designated bed areas.


Member of the Regional Health Forum West, Councillor Mary Howard, feels Clare’s local representatives aren’t doing enough to highlight the problem.

UL Hospitals Group statement:

We apologise to all patients facing long delays for a bed at University Hospital Limerick. This is not the care we wish to provide for our patients and we would like to assure patients and their loved ones that management and staff are making every effort to minimise wait times for admitted patients.

The hospital remains under severe pressure as a result of sustained high demand at our Emergency Department. On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week a total of 273 and 259 patients attended our ED. This compares to the average 209 daily attendances during 2021, our busiest year on record.

At 8am this morning, April 21st, there were a total of 85 admitted patients waiting for a bed outside of designated bed areas. This included patients in the Emergency Department, Medical and Surgical Assessment Units and on the wards. There were not 126 patients waiting on trolleys at UHL today. However the numbers waiting for a bed remain far too high, resulting in poor patient experiences.

Elective activity is reviewed daily in line with our escalation plan, based on capacity and on the clinical need of patients, including elective patients coming in for time-critical investigations and procedures. We can confirm that we have this Thursday raised our level of escalation at UHL and this will result in cancellations in scheduled care.

We need to balance emergency presentations with the needs of these time-critical elective patients and the current challenge at UHL only underlines the importance of providing an elective only hospital in the MidWest.

Patients whose appointments or procedures at UHL are being cancelled will be contacted directly by hospital staff and will be rescheduled as soon as possible. We apologise to all patients affected.

Other measures being enacted in line with our escalation plan include the use of surge capacity at UHL and our model 2 hospitals; undertaking additional ward rounds; accelerating discharges and identifying patients for transfer to our Model 2 hospitals. However, many patients currently admitted to UHL are sicker and with more complicated conditions, and require longer inpatient stays to recover.

The number of patients who require 1:1 care at UHL is currently high – at over 40 patients – and this reflects the complex care needs and acuity of illness of patients at present.

The latest available data shows 2,074 emergency ambulances attended the ED at UHL in March 2022, more than 500 more than the next busiest hospital in the country. This again reflects the acuity of patients coming to our ED.

While the number of Covid positive inpatients has reduced over recent weeks, a total of such 58 patients remain in UHL today, more than in any other hospital in the country. This also impacts on our capacity to isolate patients and on patient flow.

We acknowledge the tremendous work being done by all of our staff at UL Hospitals Group to meet current service demands and to keep patients safe.