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More reform needed at Limerick hospital, says Donnelly

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said there has been a vast increase in resources at University Hospital Limerick, but acknowledged that more reform is required.

His comments come as the Health Service Executive is to investigate the clinical and corporate governance of the hospital on the circumstances surrounding the death of 16-year-old Aoife Johnston.

The teenager died after a 12-hour wait in the UHL emergency department in December 2022 after she developed sepsis.

Minister Donnelly said with this review there can be accountability.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, the minister said he hopes to meet Aoife’s family soon.

Lawyers for the Johnston family have said it is a matter of great concern that the terms of reference for the new review were decided upon, without any input from the family.

Details of the report into her death were officially published by the HSE earlier this week alongside the terms of reference for the new investigation by former chief justice Frank Clarke.

Mr Donnelly said: “We would always want to include families in setting terms of reference for various reviews, that is normal practice … It doesn’t always happen the way it should but it is the way things should always work.”

He said that in this case, the investigation could result in accountability, which he said was a different and new approach being taken by HSE Chief Executive Bernard Gloster.

“If adverse findings are made, then there are processes that might follow from this investigation,” the minister said.

He described UHL as being “certainly one of the most under pressure in the country” in terms of overcrowding, adding that there is “a need for the Government to continue to invest and build capacity, beds and staff and critically community care as well.”

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