Wednesday, 25 September 2019
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
Hospital Accommodation Provision
The situation in Limerick is disgraceful for patients and staff. It has a knock-on effect on recruitment and retention. Working in the conditions in Limerick burns staff out and they become disillusioned. That is one of the reasons for the problems in recruitment. To have between 60 and 80 patients awaiting admission is intolerable. They are mostly elderly people with complex needs. The longer they stay in the casualty department on a trolley the longer their stay in hospital will be and the poorer their outcomes. That has been scientifically proved. What is happening in Limerick is adding to the torture and problems these patients are suffering.
We are waiting for the 60-bed modular unit to be provided. If everything goes well, it will be available by the end of next year. However, the 90-bed unit is as far away as ever. Unfortunately, there is a suspicion that the national children’s hospital will soak up the funding for the 90-bed unit and that it will not be delivered for many years. There is a need for immediate recognition that what is happening in Limerick is unique to the region. As Deputy Jan O’Sullivan said, there is unique under-resourcing and a lack of beds in Univeristy Hospital Limerick. It is 20% down on the number of beds it should have for the catchment area that it serves and 20% down on the number of staff, nurses, consultants and other health professionals, it should have. This is leading to long waiting lists and long delays.
The most immediate problem is the provision of an MRI scanner. I visited six patients from my practice in the hospital a few weeks ago. Four of them were sitting on beds bored to death waiting for scans and a consultation with other doctors, while down the corridor there were 70 patients on trolleys waiting for admission. There is a huge problem in the provision of diagnostics, staff and beds.