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Dementia patient walks out of UHL as trolley figures hit 118

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AN elderly patient suffering from dementia went missing following admittance to University Hospital Limerick amid claims “Groundhog Day” had arrived for staff and patients with 118 people left on trolleys earlier this week.

Limerick Deputy Maurice Quinlivan has revealed on Monday he was contacted by the family of an elderly patient who suffers from dementia.

“This elderly woman who had been admitted to the hospital the night before was discovered to be missing on Monday morning. Thankfully she was found by the Gardaí two hours after she had left the hospital.

“The family advised that while security could stop them from entering the hospital, nobody noticed this woman exiting her ward, the hospital building or the hospital grounds.

“I have subsequently been contacted by other families who have highlighted similar stories about their loved ones. Frontline staff at the hospital can only do so much but they are burned out and lacking bed capacity,” he said.

The UL Hospitals’ Group has revealed that they are short 68 non-consultant hospital doctors and at least 200 beds.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has outlined concerns around staff and patient safety in UHL after 118 patients were left without a bed in the hospital on Monday – just eight less than the record 126 on trolleys on April 21.

While overcrowding at UHL fell to 98 on Wednesday, it was still the highest in the country and 81% higher than University Hospital Galway on 54.

Monday’s figure made up 25.2% of the total 468 patients on trolleys across the country and was more than three times higher than University College Hospital, Galway, which had 37 patients on trolleys.

INMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations, Mary Fogarty said the situation at the hospital felt like “Groundhog Day” for the staff and patients.

“So far in May we have seen over 1,728 patients without a bed in the hospital. This is not normal and should not be accepted as such.

“The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation is very concerned about the safety of staff and patients in the hospital.

“A recent report of an inspection by the Health and Safety Authority of the Emergency Department in UHL reinforced that a fire safety report of the hospital stating that there should be no trolley parking in areas of the hospital. Staff are reporting that this is not being adhered to.

“The report of the HSA into improving safety conditions in University Hospital Limerick has been with senior management in the HSE since September 2021.

“We have had 7,932 patients so far on trolleys in UHL since the beginning of January with little action from the HSE except the commissioning of an expert review into the hospital.

“Over the weekend in UHL, many patients were waiting over 14 hours to be admitted, many over the age of 75. The basic care needs of patients cannot be met in environments like this.”

She said nurses are reporting significant work-related stress due to the persistent overcrowding and inability to provide appropriate care to all admitted patients.

“They are exhausted, overwhelmed and burnt out. As well as trying to deal with a completely unsafe environment they also are dealing with public dissatisfaction and impatience with the situation in the hospital. They also have serious concerns for the safety of patients and have advised management repeatedly of same.”

She called for the HSE’s Emergency Taskforce to be convened urgently to discuss the persistent overcrowding in UHL and emergency departments right across the country.

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