Home » Breaking News » Overcrowding protocol concerns at UHL
University Hospital Limerick.
University Hospital Limerick

Overcrowding protocol concerns at UHL

EMERGENCY measures, to manage overcrowding, has been used at the region’s main hospital, on average, every second day of the year to the end of September. The situation has been compared, by a member of the HSE West forum, to rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

Figures, obtained by the Irish Patients’ Association, show that the Full Capacity Protocol was deployed at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) on 184 days. The protocol involves putting extra beds on wards and in corridors, and only the acute facility in Waterford invoked this so called ‘last resort’ more often.

Councillor Cillian Murphy described the protocol as “a nice fancy name for overcrowding”. “When I hear of a solution being described as ‘low cost, high impact’, my cynicism button lights up,” he said. “When something is low cost, it is rarely high impact in a positive way. We need to get to the root of the problem and, in my view, that means getting more boots on the ground.”

Noeleen Moran of the Midwest Hospital Campaign said, “The fact is that the protocol is only for exceptional emergencies and yet it was used more than 50% of the time. We know about the overcrowding issue, but we need to know where the bottlenecks are and a lot of those come down to staff shortages.”

“It’s only since the smaller EDs closed that overcrowding started to soar. Reopening those services is a matter of urgency now,” Ms Moran added.

The campaigner acknowledged the drop in numbers attending the regional ED over part of this year, but said that overcrowding was still too high.

“The numbers on trolleys have been averaging around 50 in recent days,” she said, “and the fact that Covid-19 might keep people away over fear for their safety is not good enough.”

In relation to the opening of a new 60-bed modular unit, which had originally been expected to open early this month, Ms Moran said she was cautiously optimistic. “What we really need to know is that staffing levels will be what they should,” she said.

In a statement, the UL Hospitals Group said its Covid-19 response had changed the way it manages those awaiting admission. “As part of our Covid response, we no longer place patients on trolleys in inpatient wards. The Covid pathways developed have ensured that we have not triggered FCP in a number of months. Escalation plans are also enacted to prevent the requirement to trigger FCP.”

It added that it regretted any distress or inconvenience long waits cause for patients and their loved ones and pointed to a number of initiatives including the 60-bed modular unit which it said will open “before the end of this year”.

About Fiona McGarry

Check Also

Fight over Abbey Street Car Park grows increasingly bitter

THE war of words between Ennis 2040 DAC and Save Ennis Town has heated up …