The majority of scheduled public surgery and outpatient appointments in the Mid-West will be deferred next Tuesday due to an increase in staff absences .
The UL Hospitals’ Group has confirmed Covid-19 related staff absences are resulting in significant disruption to services.
This has resulted in the deferral of most of scheduled surgery and outpatient appointments across all hospital sites from Tuesday, January 4 until Friday, January 7.
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.
As the group experience a significant surge in Covid-19 activity across society, it anticipates that an increase in staff absences will have a significant impact on services over the coming weeks.
There are currently 392 staff off work and self-isolating having either tested positive for Covid-19, been designated as a close contact or have been deemed high risk.
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. Patients whose appointment or procedure is being affected are being contacted directly by the hospital in advance. The curtailment of services are being kept under continuous review by the UL Hospitals’ Group Crisis Management Team.
The group 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 bythe 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 and rapid access clinics.
Other outpatient clinics involving time-critical only following clinical decision, with patients being contacted in advance will continue.
Paediatric clinics and ante-natal clinic; colposcopy clinic; diabetes in pregnancy clinic; elective c-sections and induction of labour in (UMHL) are not affected.
The group are also reminding members of the public that the Emergency Department at University Hospital Limerick is extremely busy and patients should consider all other care options before presenting to the ED.
The ED remains open for emergency care and patients should continue to present for life-threatening emergencies such as heart attack, stroke etc.
As an alternative to attending ED, the group urge everyone to first consider the care options that are available in their communities, including family doctors, out-of-hours GP services, and local pharmacies. Injury units in Ennis and Nenagh are open from 8am to 8pm, and in St John’s from 8am to 7pm, seven days a week.
If a person do have symptoms of Covid-19, it is important that they do not go to the Emergency Department or your GP. Ring them in advance for advice. Avoid contact with other people by self-isolating. In a medical emergency if they have severe symptoms, call 112 or 999.
UL Hospitals’ Group CEO, Colette Cowan, said: “We regret the impact that these cancellations will have on our patients. 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.
“The high levels of Covid-19 infection across our communities is having a significant impact on staffing levels and therefore it is imperative that we take the necessary precautions to ensure that time critical and emergency care can go ahead.
“I would like to remind people of the importance of following basic public health measures in the weeks and months ahead such as social distancing, washing their hands and limiting social contacts to help stop the spread of Covid-19.”