Medics face a surge in patients at new facility
Medical staff at the country's busiest emergency department are bracing themselves for a 10pc surge in patients in the first year of its new facility, as "people come for a look".
University Hospital Limerick is consistently ranked as having among the highest numbers of patients on trolleys during times of pressure on the health service.
The new department, built at a cost of €24m and on budget, is set to open at 8am on Monday after six years of planning.
Thirty additional nurses have been recruited to staff the emergency department (ED), while the number of consultant doctors is to increase from five to 12. Four additional registrar medics are also going to work in the new facility.
Consultant in emergency medicine Dr Cormac Mehigan said that evidence showed that with the opening of any new facility, a 10pc increase in the first year could be expected.
Dr Mehigan warned that the new department "will be swamped" if patients don't continue to go to the smaller units at Ennis, Nenagh, and St John's Hospital in Limerick.
The CEO of the UL Hospitals Group, Professor Colette Cowan, said: "Anything new often brings people to see what is happening.
"They will be ill, but they might choose to come here instead of Nenagh or Ennis hospitals."
The chief director of nursing at the UL Hospitals Group, Bridget Hoctor, said: "People come for a look."
The new department should lead to a dramatic improvement in conditions for staff and patients, with Dr Mehigan saying that with the new facility "we won't have the sense of, when you walk into the ED, being faced with a barrage of trolleys. Your heart sinks on a daily basis with that."
Dr Mehigan added: "It will be a lot more comfortable and a lot less cluttered. It will just be a much better environment."