A YOUNG nurse at University Hospital Limerick broke down in tears on her doorstep after outlining the problems caused by chronic overcrowding.
That’s according to Councillor James Breen, who has requested Health Minister James Reilly to take urgent action to address the lack of beds at UHL.
During a recent canvass, Councillor Breen met a young nurse who asked him if there was anything he could do to stop the “inhumane treatment of patients who are made to lie on trolleys for hours waiting for admission.
“The pressure and stress on nursing staff that are at the cold face of this situation and who also have to contend with abuse and criticism on a daily basis, is adding to the already intolerable work conditions,” he said.
As a former member of the Ennis Hospital Action Committee, he said it is distressing to think that 20 years since the committee was founded, nothing has changed.
“Only this time there seems to be no solution in sight. I expect that the electorate will send a clear message to the present Government on May 23 that this situation cannot continue.
“I think it is now time that the representatives of the IMO stop talking and start taking action to protect their members by organising a protest outside the Department of Health and Dáil Éireann,” he said.
This issue was raised in a question tabled by Limerick Councillor Joe Leddin at a HSE West Forum meeting in Galway on Tuesday.
University Hospital Limerick, chief executive officer, Ann Doherty replied it is planned to open a 17 bed short stay unit, which will be managed by acute medicine physicians, with a view towards discharging patients within 48 hours of admission.
It is anticipated that this unit will expand into an existing ward in the future increasing the capacity of the unit to 49 beds.
As part of the bed management response to hospital overcrowding, Ms Doherty said the HSE had implemented a number of measures to alleviate the problem.
This includes holding twice daily bed meetings attended by bed management and ward managers to discuss potential discharges as well as allocating patients to different departments in the hospital.
Three patient flow managers have been appointed since July 2013, who are responsible for co-ordinating the transfer of patients from UHL to Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s.
A “navigational hub” is being developed to facilitate a discussion by ward managers and relevant clinicians about patients to identify and address potential delays at an earlier stage.