THE clinical directors of the UL Hospitals Group have written an open letter to the people of the Mid-West, in which they call for “a great collaborative effort”, to improve services in the region.
The standard of service provided to the people of the Mid- West has been under fire in recent weeks, after record-breaking numbers on trolleys were recorded at University Hospital Limerick (UHL). From Monday to Thursday this week, more patients were waiting for a bed at UHL than at any other Irish hospital.
The letter states, “In recent years, our main acute hospital, UHL, has experienced serious challenges in providing enough inpatient beds for the acutely-ill patients that have presented to our Emergency Department (ED). These shortages have led to unacceptable numbers of elderly and frail patients waiting for far too long in the ED for a bed in the hospital.
“The experience of some of these patients has been very bad. We profoundly regret that this has been the case. These facts have been highlighted in the media and have drawn political comment.”
Even if an ED facility is of the highest quality, if other factors are not looked after there will still be problems, the letter warned.
“No matter how excellent the ED facility is, and the new one at UHL is a superb modern facility, serious problems will arise if there are not enough doctors and nurses, not enough inpatient beds, not enough access to critical
care or theatre, not enough access to diagnostics, not enough step-down facility beds and/or community services.
“All of these steps are the constant focus and the clinical priorities of UL Hospitals Group. We, like all Irish hospitals, strive within our available resources to ensure patients get the best possible care and UHL is a very safe hospital by both Irish and international standards.”
While the letter said that it is difficult to compare hospitals, it claimed that Beaumont in Dublin has greater resources and fewer patients. “Beaumont has 630 in-patient beds and UHL has 454 (a 39% difference). Beaumont has 31% more staff than UHL. In 2017, UHL saw 63,850 new emergency patients in its ED, while Beaumont saw 52,956, a 21% difference.
“UHL had 26,153 emergency in-patient discharges, while Beaumont had 18,659, a 40% difference. Beaumont does have almost 2,000 more planned admissions.”
Regarding staffing, they say, “UHL has 2,851 whole-time equivalent staff, while Beaumont has 3,728, a difference of 31%.”
The letter claims that 322 patients are seen per consultant at UHL, compared with 239 at Beaumont, while the UL Hospitals Group, as a whole, has fewer doctors of all grades per inpatient discharge and per capita, compared with all of the country’s other hospital groups.
It claimed that more resources are needed and that the Mid- West’s representatives’ support will be required to get them. “This [additional funding] is necessary to bring staffing levels up to the same levels seen in other catchment areas.“Funding is also needed for the major infrastructural projects to improve our bed capacity; and to expand our diagnostic capability.
“There is a lot of competition in Ireland for resources. Their distribution is controlled centrally. So this ambitious agenda will need the support of the community and of its representatives and activists.
“We all want the same thing -a hospital that is deeply rooted in its community, that serves it well and that is known as a centre of excellence for clinical care, teaching and research.
“It will take a great collaborative effort to get there,” the letter stated.