Former HSE Director General Warns Elective-Only Hospital For Midwest Should Be Prioritsed Ahead Of Rest Of Country

A former Director General of the HSE has warned that emergency attention is required to deal with chronic overcrowding at the region’s main hospital.

Tony O’Brien insists the health service in the Midwest doesn’t have the capacity to meet the needs of the population it serves and that an elective-only hospital needs to be prioritsed for this region, ahead of anywhere else in the country.


University Hospital Limerick recorded the highest trolley numbers of any hospital in the country since records began on two days this week, prompting calls from nurses union the INMO and local political representatives for an independent review to be carried out.

The Dooradoyle facility is still the busiest in the country today, but trolley numbers have reduced significantly from a peak of 111 earlier in the week to 50 today, according to the latest INMO figures.

A former Director General of the HSE believes the situation that arose this week proves there’s a shortage of 200 beds in the system and he’s warned that until bed stock is addressed, the problems will continue to persist.

Tony O’Brien says there was good logic underpinning reconfiguration, which was completed before his time, but this wasn’t followed through in addressing what has been a historic deficit in the number of beds versus the size of population served in the Midwest.

He believes that if the economic crash hadn’t happened, there would have been an increased investment in beds, which would have prevented some of the problems we’ve seen in this region over the last number of years.

He’s gone on to say, however, that the UL Hospitals Group clearly lacks the capacity it needs to meet the needs of the population, with the solution being an elective-only hospital.

An elective-only hospital would take at least two to three years to bring to fruition and in the meantime, the former HSE Director General says imaginative thinking is needed to deal with the serious capacity issues here.

Tony O’Brien recalls that over time initiatvies have been designed to ensure improved efficiency with resources and a lot has been done, but he says they’ve “squeezed most of the juice they can out of those initiatives”.

The fundamental problem, he says, is there isn’t enough beds.