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Professor Brian Lenehan, chief clinical director ULHG: “We apologise to all patients currently experiencing long wait times for a bed in our Emergency Department and in our assessment units."

Significant reductions in scheduled care over UHL overcrowding

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UL Hospitals Group has notified of “significant” reductions in scheduled care in effect across its facilities as it continues to manage high volumes of patients through its Emergency Department at University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

The hospital raised its level of escalation on Monday, May 30, resulting in the deferral of all but the most time-critical elective activity this Tuesday and Wednesday.

While outpatient activity at UHL is being restored this Thursday and Friday, almost all elective surgical procedures and diagnostic investigations are deferred for the remainder of this week until Friday, June 3.

Elective and day surgery is also impacted at Nenagh Hospital and St John’s Hospital until this Friday.

A spokesperson said, “We regret that some patients will have their surgery deferred and all affected patients are being contacted directly by hospital staff. Patients attending for day surgery at Ennis Hospital are advised to attend as planned for the remainder of this week unless contacted directly by the hospital and advised otherwise.”

Patients attending for endoscopy and outpatient appointments at Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s are also advised to attend as planned unless advised otherwise by staff. The medical assessment units at these three hospitals will also operate as normal.

Services at University Maternity Hospital Limerick and at Croom Orthopaedic Hospital are unaffected by these disruptions and patients at both hospitals are advised to attend for their appointments.

All patients whose appointments are affected by these regrettable service disruptions will be contacted directly by staff and their appointments will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

In line with its escalation plan, the group is currently prioritising care for its sickest patients and says it “sincerely regrets the significant reduction in services across our hospitals this week”.

The Emergency Department at UHL remains open 24-7 for emergency cases and emergency and trauma surgery is continuing. Injury Units at Ennis (8am-8pm), Nenagh (8am-8pm) and St John’s Hospital (8am-7pm) are all operating as normal.

Appointments at UHL which are going ahead at this time include:

Cancer services (oncology and haematology day ward; haematology and oncology outpatient clinics; medical oncology clinics; rapid access clinics for breast, lung and prostate)
Breast radiology
Heart Failure Clinic (ANP clinic) and Cardiac Rehabilitation
Rapid Access Medical Unit (DVT, diabetes, epilepsy, anticoagulant, warfarin, respiratory, fibroscan)
Dermatology outpatients
Infectious diseases outpatients
Bronchoscopy outpatients
Cardiology diagnostics
OPAT (outpatient therapy)
Fracture Clinic
Paediatric outpatient clinics
Vascular Laboratory
Where other outpatient appointments are affected, patients will be contacted directly.

“We urge people to continue attending ED for the most serious illnesses and injuries, such as suspected heart attacks and strokes. At this time of high demand for our services, anyone who has a less serious injury is going to experience delays, so we ask them to consider all healthcare alternatives to ED where appropriate, including family doctors, out of hours GP services, and local pharmacies.

“Our Injury Units in Nenagh, Ennis and St John’s Hospitals are also an excellent care pathway for a range of minor injuries, which are outlined on the HSE website at this link.

Prof Brian Lenehan, Chief Clinical Director, UL Hospitals Group said: “We apologise to all patients currently experiencing long wait times for a bed in our Emergency Department and in our assessment units.

“Medical teams are undertaking additional ward rounds to identify patients suitable for discharge or transfer to community care settings or to our model 2 hospitals, where surge capacity has been opened as we manage high volumes of ill patients who require admission through ED.

“To further increase capacity, we have also taken the decision today to continue with reduced levels of service for the rest of this week. While we are restoring outpatient clinics, this reduced level of service will unfortunately impact elective surgery at UHL for the remainder of this week,” Prof Lenehan added.

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