Limerick overcrowding demands national action

A return to major overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick must be stopped, the INMO has warned.
 
42 patients are on trolleys in UHL today: 22 in the emergency department, with 20 on wards elsewhere. This is more than half of all patients on trolleys across the country today (57% of 74 nationally).
 
The INMO is calling for direct national oversight and investigation as to what is causing this overcrowding, saying that national intervention is absolutely necessary to avoid catastrophic outcomes for patients and frontline staff. 
 
Overcrowding in hospitals in the current COVID-19 pandemic is dangerous as it increases risk of infection and COVID-19 transmission. This also poses a health and safety risk for critical frontline staff.
 
University Hospital Limerick has, in recent years, been consistently the most overcrowded hospital in Ireland, with nearly 14,000 patients on trolleys in the hospital in 2019.
 
INMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations for the region, Mary Fogarty, said:
 
“Trolley numbers are rightly at record lows nationally, as health service capacity is increased and many services pared down.
 
“Yet what we are seeing in Limerick is beyond belief. UHL has more patients on trolleys today than all other hospitals in Ireland put together.
 
“Any overcrowding is unacceptable at the best of times. But with COVID-19, this presents a serious danger of infection and transmission of the virus to staff and vulnerable patients. Hospitals should be limiting occupancy to safety limits, not going beyond 80% capacity in times of such high infection risk.
 
“We need an immediate national oversight to ensure this level of overcrowding is halted, with direct national intervention if necessary.”

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