Thursday 18 October 2018

'Overcrowding and long waits may never end'

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

The problem of waiting lists and patient overcrowding may never end, a senior clinician and manager at beleaguered University Hospital Limerick (UHL) has warned.

THE problem of waiting lists and patient overcrowding may never end, a senior clinician and manager at beleaguered University Hospital Limerick (UHL) has warned.

Paul Burke, the chief clinical director at UHL Hospital's Group, called for a sea-change in how healthcare is provided in Ireland.

His comments came as he delivered a candid insight into the daily challenges faced by the hospital.

The hospital had the highest number of patients on trolleys in the country, despite last year opening a new state of the art €25m Emergency Department.

As 52 patients languished on trolleys, hospital management spoke of bed capacity, high attendances, low level of consultants, inadequate infrastructure, and an ageing population.

The Limerick hospital currently serves a population of 385,000, not including those coming from north Cork, north Kerry, and south Tipperary.

"The attendances this year to date, nationally, are up about 7pc. But, they are up 17pc in our Emergency Department. So that in itself creates huge pressures," said Mr Burke.

Management have applied for Government funding for a permanent 96-bed unit as well as a 60-bed modular unit to help alleviate pressure on the system, however there is no timeline on when a decision on funding will be made.

Mr Burke says he can't ever see the ED crisis being solved, unless there are drastic changes in the health system.

Of the proposed 96-bed unit, he says: "It won't make any difference to numbers, but it will allows us to process patients through [faster].

"And, of course, when that happens, you will have less overcrowding in your ED department."

But he added: "If you have less overcrowding... you know what will happen then... more people will come."

Irish Independent

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