Thursday, 23 June 2022
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I agree wholeheartedly with the Deputy's closing remark. I mentioned in my opening statement that the Minister met senior officials from the HSE yesterday to discuss the issues in University Hospital Limerick and the immediate responses required to address the pressures being faced by all 29 emergency departments. The Minister was updated on the progress of the University Hospital Limerick expert team review and the response to the HIQA report. He was also informed that the HSE's performance management improvement unit is to engage urgently with the hospital group and the CHO to provide intensive support to the hospital and community teams to ensure the issues identified in the expert team's assessment and the HIQA report are addressed as a matter of urgency. The HIQA report provides an important opportunity for a renewed focus on the capacity, capability, quality and safety of emergency care services delivered to the people of the mid-west region by University Hospital Limerick.
As I mentioned, significant resources have been invested in University Hospital Limerick in recent years. This has seen an increase in University Hospital Limerick’s workforce of 28% since the end of 2019. It is accepted that a key part of the solution for Limerick is additional beds, as the Deputy mentioned. A total of 150 additional beds have been opened in the University Limerick Hospitals Group since 1 Jan 2020. Of these, 98 have been in University Hospital Limerick. Further plans for Limerick include the provision of a 96-bed ward block at University Hospital Limerick, of which approximately half will replace older stock.
As with the Deputy, I welcome the reduction in trolley numbers but it is still too high. The matter of performance in hospital emergency departments is under constant review by the Department, including seeking assurance regarding the appropriate escalation measures for emergency department overcrowding through ongoing engagement with the HSE. I assure Members that the Minister, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, and the Government are committed to driving an improvement in emergency department performance in Limerick.