“Comprehensive Package” Needed To Address UHL Overcrowding – Health Minister

The Minister for Health admits a ‘comprehensive package’ is needed to address the overcrowding crisis at the region’s main hospital this winter.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Health Committee this morning Stephen Donnelly has admitted that works completed at University Hospital Limerick in recent years don’t go far enough to solve current issues there.

It comes as the Chief Clinical Director of the UL Hospitals Group has dismissed any suggestion that the Dooradoyle facility is “unsafe”, as unprecedented attendances are compounded by a Covid outbreak.

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The Health Minister has today told the Oireachtas Health Committee that the 60 bed modular unit which opened in Dooradoyle last year was critical.

But Stephen Donnelly admits it’s ‘not enough’ to solve the issues in Dooradoyle.

Unprecedented numbers have been presenting at University Hospital Limerick in the past month, where staff have been grappling with one of the worst spells of overcrowding in recent times.

The UL Hospitals Group says patients attending are sicker, more frail and require longer stays and while every effort is being made to maximise patient flow, this is impacting on the numbers waiting to be admitted to a bed.

It’s understood additional home care hours, staff and diagnostics ae under consideration for the Midwest.

Addressing questioning from Clare Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway, Minister Donnelly says he has ‘real concerns’ about the situation at UHL.

The INMO has reported that over 80 people were waiting to be admitted to UHL on both Monday and Tuesday – that number has only fallen marginally to 79 today.

The nurses union has hit out over a lack of action, claiming the levels of overcrowding are “unsafe”.

Chief Clinical Director, Professor Brian Lennihan has dismissed this.

Meanwhile, visitors are now banned from all inpatient wards at University Hospital Limerick, with four wards impacted by a Covid-19 outbreak that began over a fortnight ago.

Visits to the Emergency Department, Acute Surgical Assessment Unit and the Acute Medical Unit also remain in force.

50 patients are being treated for the virus there this morning, up from 42 yesterday, with 6 in ICU.

The UL Hospitals Group says all appropriate infection control precautions are being followed to minimise the risk of spreading infection.

Professor Lennihan says while it would be preferable that all visitors were vaccinated, it’s not something they can mandate.