Gridlock will escalate further at trolley-hit hospital, doctors warn
Doctors in the most overcrowded hospital in the country - consistently the worst for trolley gridlock - have warned that the crisis will deteriorate further unless they get more beds and staff.
The senior medical staff at University Hospital Limerick wrote an open letter to the people of the mid-west expressing profound regret at the conditions faced by "frail and elderly patients" waiting too long for a bed.
Although UHL has a new emergency department, they said: "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, nor enough access to critical care or theatre, not enough access to diagnostics, not enough stepdown facility beds and/ or community services."
They contrasted their resources with that of Beaumont Hospital in north Dublin which is often praised by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for bringing its trolley crisis under some control.
The Limerick doctors said that Beaumont Hospital has 31pc more staff and 39pc more beds than UHL, but the Limerick hospital saw 21pc more patients in its emergency department than its counterpart in the capital.
However, despite this, UHL has the shortest average length of stay, which is regarded as a marker of good management.
The letter was signed by five senior doctors in the hospital.
Limerick was promised a 60-bed modular unit which was originally expected to be ready at the end of this year.
It will not now be open until the middle of 2020, which means the hospital will have to suffer through another winter of overcrowding.
Figures compiled by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation yesterday showed there were 426 patients on trolleys across the country.
Limerick was again top of the table, with 58 patients waiting for a bed, followed by Cork University Hospital where 38 were on trolleys.
Beaumont was the third worst for overcrowding, with 33 patients on trolleys.
The problem now is that the trolley crisis is no longer confined to the worst winter months, and last summer was particularly bad.
As surgeons carry out more operations on waiting list patients and use beds, this affects space.