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Surgeries put back another week as 675 staff out over Covid


REDUCTIONS in scheduled care across UL Hospitals Group have been extended for a further week as high levels of Covid-19 related staff absences mean emergency and time-critical care must be prioritised.

This Friday, January 7 a total of 675 staff (whole-time equivalents) or approximately 13% of the UL Hospitals Group workforce are unavailable for work for reasons relating to Covid-19.

The Hospital Crisis Management Team this Friday confirmed the deferral of the majority of scheduled surgery and outpatient appointments across its hospitals from Monday, January 10 until Friday, January 14.

This includes University Hospital Limerick, Ennis Hospital, Nenagh Hospital, St John’s Hospital, and Croom Orthopaedic Hospital. Services at University Maternity Hospital Limerick are unaffected. All impacted patients are being contacted directly by the hospital.

Staff absences continue to rise as a result of the current surge in Covid-19 and this is having an adverse impact on service delivery.

This includes staff who are positive, closes contacts, those restricting movements or self-isolating in line with the public health guidelines, vulnerable healthcare workers etc.

A spokesperson for the group said, “All the relevant HPSC guidance is being followed as we work to contain the virus and to protect patients and staff. Contact tracing and testing of staff and patients are continuing and we are putting into effect all the appropriate infection control measures to mitigate the risk.

“Emergency and trauma theatre continues to operate and time-critical outpatient appointments are also being accommodated both face-to-face and virtually. The curtailment of services is being kept under continuous review.

“We regret the impact these cancellations will have on patients who had expected to attend for their procedures next week. Patients directly affected by this decision are being contacted directly by UL Hospitals Group and will be rescheduled at the earliest opportunity.”

Services which continue include: Dialysis (UHL); Acute Fracture Clinic (UHL); Cancer services (oncology and haematology day ward; haematology and oncology OPD clinics; medical oncology clinics; rapid access clinics); Other outpatient clinics: Time-critical only following clinical decision, with patients being contacted in advance; Paediatric clinics; Ante-natal clinic; colposcopy clinic; diabetes in pregnancy clinic; elective c-sections and induction of labour (UMHL)

While services at University Maternity Hospital Limerick are unaffected, an outbreak of Covid-19 and high levels of community transmission mean the temporary restrictions on access to inpatient wards for nominated support partners must for now remain in place.

Access for nominated support partners to our inpatient wards at UMHL is limited to one two-hour slot per day between the hours of 2pm and 8pm.

These slots will be co-ordinated at ward level by our staff, who will link directly with service users and nominated support partners. Nominated support partners can continue to attend for the labour ward, theatre, certain scan appointments, neonatal and other services.

Please see here for further details on access restrictions for UMHL. These are being reviewed regularly and we are committed to increasing access for partners as soon as possible.

UL Hospitals Group CEO, Colette Cowan, said: “As in recent years, we had planned to reduce scheduled surgery at UHL for the first two weeks in January in order to better manage the anticipated surge in emergency presentations.

“This year, due to the surge in Covid-19 cases and the high levels of absence due to Covid-19, we have in addition had to reduce scheduled care across all our sites, including in Ennis, Nenagh, St John’s and Croom. Staff from our model 2 hospitals have redeployed to keep essential services running this week at UHL and at UMHL. Through redeployment and overtime, our staff have again responded with professionalism and dedication to ensure we can continue to provide care to our sickest patients through this challenging period.”

“We regret the impact that these cancellations and restrictions are having on our patients and their loved ones. We will prioritise our most urgent patients for planned procedures and appointments next week and we look forward to increasing activity as soon as possible.”

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