WORK has commenced on delivering the new €90 million 96-Bed Block at University Hospital Limerick, which will result in a net increase of 48 new in-patient beds.
However, the UL Hospitals’ Group has confirmed this new extension will take at least two years to complete and the new facility will then have to be equipped and commissioned before opening to patients.
Described by the group as the next step in increasing acute bed capacity in the Mid-West, the new 9,800 square-metre block will be built over the existing Emergency Department and Dialysis Unit and will consist of 96 en-suite single rooms over four floors.
Approximately half of the beds will be new beds for inpatients while the remainder will be replacement beds allowing the hospital to close or refurbish some of the more outdated inpatient accommodation on the site.
This will allow for greater compliance with national guidelines and international best practice on infection prevention and control.
Speaking in Limerick as he broke ground on this important development on Thursday, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said this new, state of the art extension represents a significant and much needed development for University Hospital Limerick and, more importantly, for the people of Limerick and the Mid-West.
“It also again underlines this Government’s commitment to investing in modern, fit-for-purpose infrastructure that is critically important for the delivery of high quality, safe care across our health service.”
John Sisk and Son has been appointed as the main contractor for the project.
During his visit to UHL, Minister Donnelly also officially opened a number of new developments that have recently opened at UHL and which have improved the patient experience and work environment.
These included the new 60-Bed Block developed by Western Building Systems, and the new 24-bed Ward 6B for haematology and oncology patients completed by Clancy Construction.
Prof Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group, said since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the group have been supported by government and the HSE in opening 98 inpatient beds and 10 new critical care beds at UHL.
“This new single-room capacity has dramatically improved the group’s ability to isolate patients and to protect many of the most vulnerable through the worst of the crisis.”
“This year, the group are on course to see a record number of patients presenting to our Emergency Department. As the population grows and rapidly ages, demand continues to outstrip capacity. The group continue to work with the HSE nationally and with community colleagues on internal processes, on integrated care pathways and on hospital avoidance measures. But increasing capacity is fundamental to resolving chronic overcrowding at UHL.
“We are delighted to welcome the Minister today to see for himself the progress we have made and to break ground for the new 96-Bed Block. This is an important further step in addressing our under-capacity in the MidWest and will further reduce our reliance on outdated nightingale wards.”
In the course of his visit to UHL on Thursday, Minister Donnelly also met with patients and staff in the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit.
The Minister held meetings with senior hospital management and with non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs).
Minister Donnelly has recently established the National Taskforce on NCHD Workforce to put in place a sustainable workforce planning strategy and to aid in the recruitment and retention of this key group of healthcare professionals.