THE UL Hospitals’ Group hasn’t announced a definite opening date for the long-awaited €19.5 million 60-bed ward block at the University Hospital Limerick (UHL), despite a pledge for a government minister it is expected to be in operation by Monday, November 9.
A new 60-bed ward modular unit was established to provide a rapid build interim solution to begin to address the bed capacity issue at UHL in response to the National Capacity Review by the Department of Health.
The four-storey ward block will provide an additional 60 beds for the hospital, all single patient rooms with ensuites. Additional single rooms will help to improve patient comfort, safety, privacy and dignity and assist with the management of infection control in the hospital.
Overcrowding has continued to be a major problem for Clare patients at the hospital, which regularly has the highest number of patients in the country waiting on trolleys.
Responding to Clare Champion queries after this issue was raised in the Seanad recently by Senator Martin Conway, a UL Hospitals’ spokesman said it is anticipated that the new beds will be operational by the fourth quarter this year.
He confirmed recruitment is ongoing and the group looks forward to opening these beds before the end of the year.
Senator Conway highlighted the overcrowding problem in the ED at UHL where many elderly, vulnerable and extremely sick people are left on trolleys waiting for a bed.
The Fine Gael Senator also requested a specific opening date for this unit.
“For the last number of years, the accident and emergency department at UHL in Dooradoyle has been constantly overcrowded, particularly during the winter months. Last year was one of the worst years for overcrowding at the hospital’s ED. At one point, the figures ranged from 80 to almost 100.
“Once patients get a bed in the hospital, they are treated very well and the care offered to them is exemplary. They are waiting on trolleys on corridors and around the vicinity of the accident and emergency unit in very challenging and very difficult circumstances,” he said.
Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler confirmed the new modular unit is expected to be completed by October 30.
“Once the three 20-bed inpatient wards in the new building are stocked with consumables and given a final clean, Deputy Butler said they are expected to be ready to be put into operation by Monday, November 9.
Senator Conway welcomed the specific opening date and commitment from Minister Butler concerning the new modular unit.