Day surgeries cancelled at Ennis Hospital to accommodate UHL overflow

Day Surgeries Cancelled At Ennis Hospital To Accommodate Uhl Overflow
Figures from the INMO showed there were 96 patients waiting on trolleys at University Hospital Limerick on Tuesday. Photo: PA Images
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David Raleigh

The UL Hospitals Group (ULHG) has said the decision to cancel day surgeries at Ennis Hospital in Co Clare was “necessary in the interests of patient safety”, with Ennis forced to provide surge capacity for University Hospital Limerick (UHL), the Midwest region's main hospital.

The ULHG urged non-urgent patients “to consider all available healthcare options to avoid long waits for assessment”.


On Tuesday there were 96 patients waiting on trolleys in UHL, which is regularly the most overcrowded hospital in the country.

The hospital’s €24 million Emergency Department (ED) opened in 2017 to cater for up to 170 patients a day, however, ULHG said “a total of 246 patients presented to the Emergency Department yesterday [Monday], following a busy weekend”.

“Unfortunately, we have had to cancel day surgery at Ennis Hospital today [Tuesday] in order to create additional capacity for medical patients, and impacted patients are being contacted directly by the hospital. We apologise to any patient affected, and will work to ensure they are rescheduled at the earliest opportunity,” ULHG said in a statement.

Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) have threatened strike action in the region unless the crisis eases.


The organisation's general secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha, said the 663 patients without beds in hospitals nationally on Tuesday was a “worrying spike in hospital overcrowding” and an “intolerable situation for vulnerable patients and frontline workers alike”.

“Our members are once again expressing serious concerns about their ability to provide safe care to all who need it in our hospitals, nobody should have to endure this in a modern health service.”

Persistent overcrowding

Elective activity was continuing at ULHG’s other sites, which includes Nenagh Hospital, Croom Orthopaedic Hospital and St John's Hospital in Limerick, with its “hospital management team (HMT) keeping the situation under review on a day-to-day basis”.

The group was also undertaking additional ward rounds at UHL to identify patients suitable for transfer to Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s, as a well as any available capacity within community healthcare settings.


“Anyone presenting to ED today with a less urgent condition is going to face a long wait for care. We urge the public to consider all available healthcare alternatives to ED.

“Less acutely unwell patients are asked to first consider our Injury Units, GPs, out-of-hours GP services and pharmacists before attending ED,” ULHG said.

Despite new ambulance protocols allowing paramedics transport some 999/112 patients to model 2 hospitals outside and away from UHL, overcrowding has persisted.

An estimated 10,000 people participated in a protest march in Limerick last month calling on the Government to reverse a 2009 decision to reconfigure 24-hour emergency units in the Midwest to UHL. Many believe the policy has led to UHL's chronic overcrowding.


Speaking to reporters at UHL last Friday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar ruled out the reopening of the 24-hour EDs elsewhere in the region, however, he later told members of the Mid West Hospital Campaign group that “nothing is off the table”.

A 96-bed block currently under construction on the grounds of UHL is due to be completed in two years, and management have sought a second 96-bed building.

A new 150-bed not-for-profit hospital, to be run by the Bon Secours Health System (BSHS), will cater for both private and public patients, the Taoiseach said.

Mr Varadkar said the Government is considering purchasing Barrington’s Private Hospital in Limerick city to provide further capacity, after BSHS vacate the building and move to its new facility in 2025.

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