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UHL staff ‘struggling’ to deal with major overcrowding

Sinn Féin has said staff at University Hospital Limerick are struggling to deal with major overcrowding.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald detailed the case of an elderly patient who was recently on a trolley in the hospital for eight days.

“There are significant staffing gaps in the hospital,” she told the Dáil.

Without urgent action the situation will get even worse, the Sinn Féin Leader warned.

The Taoiseach said staff are working under enormous pressure and patients are experiencing things they should not have to experience.

However, Leo Varadkar said hospital waiting lists are not at a record high and they have fallen for the last two years.

In Limerick there is a particular challenge, but the budget for the hospital has increased by 45% in the past four years and 1,000 more staff are now employed at UHL, the Taoiseach said.

This includes 140 more doctors and 45 more consultants but the Taoiseach conceded that the problems at UHL are very real.

‘Elective surgery deferred’

The Dáil comments come following the deferral of elective surgery scheduled to take place at hospitals in the University of Limerick hospital group, due to high numbers presenting at UHL’s emergency department.

UHL said it was dealing with extremely high demand and has asked people to consider all care options before coming to the ED.

Those who are not urgent or seriously ill will face significant waiting times, it added.

The hospital is at its highest state of escalation and has seen its busiest week so far this year, with an average of 245 presentations a day, or 1,716 in the seven days up to yesterday morning.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said that as of this morning, there were 115 admitted patients waiting for a bed at UHL, down from 143 yesterday, which was the second highest the hospital has experienced in its history.

According to the Health Service Executive’s TrolleyGar figures, there were 73 admitted patients waiting for a bed at UHL – 32 in its ED and 41 on wards.

Scheduled or elective activity has been deferred and will remain under review as UHL deals with the high numbers of sick people at the hospital in the coming days, it said.

Additional reporting: Cathy Halloran

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