Public asked to avoid Limerick ED as surge expected over Easter weekend

Public Asked To Avoid Limerick Ed As Surge Expected Over Easter Weekend
The UL Hospital Group has “requested that consultants and senior clinical decision makers are available over the weekend in order to support discharge and movement of patients”. Photo: PA Images
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David Raleigh

The UL Hospitals Group (ULHG), which manages the most overcrowded hospital in the country, has asked that “less acutely unwell” patients avoid the Emergency Department (ED) at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) over the Easter weekend.

The ULHG said Thursday that it has “requested that consultants and senior clinical decision makers are available over the weekend in order to support discharge and movement of patients”.


On Thursday there were 111 patients on trolleys waiting for beds at UHL, the highest number nationally, although patient overcrowding persisted in other hospitals.

Since 2009, UHL, formerly the Regional Hospital, Limerick, has struggled to provide the only 24-hour emergency department service for 400,000 people across the mid-west, when A&E services in Clare and north Tipperary were reconfigured to Limerick.

The ULHG said Thursday it was “managing high demand for emergency and inpatient care” and it expected a surge of attendances over the Easter weekend.

The ED at UHL was opened in 2017 to cater for up to 190 patients in a 24-hour period, however, “during March, a daily average of 226 patients attended the ED, exceeding by 16 per cent the average 195 daily attendances recorded in 2019, the last full year prior to the pandemic”.


“The general rise in demand for emergency care persists into this month. On Monday, some 234 people attended, followed by 256 on Tuesday, and 239 in the 24-hour period to 8am this morning (Thursday),” the group added.

All of its six sites in the region including, UHL, Nenagh Hospital, St John’s Hospital, University Hospital Maternity Hospital, Limerick, Croom Orthopaedic Hospital and St John’s Hospital, “remain very busy, with continued high Emergency Department attendances and inpatient admissions at University Hospital Limerick (UHL)”.

“As we continue to balance demand for emergency healthcare with the needs of inpatients while safely maintaining time-critical and other elective activity, we’re asking people with less than urgent healthcare needs to consider our Injury Units and all other healthcare options to help avoid inevitably long waits at the ED,” it said.

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“Given this ongoing level of demand, and the high level of activity during the last bank holiday weekend in mid-March, we have continued working to our escalation framework this week to create surge capacity and maximise numbers of inpatient beds available across all our sites.”


As part of an escalation plan, the ULHG was continuing “additional ward rounding, so that appropriate patients can be discharged or transferred” from UHL “to Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s Hospital”.

The group said was also looking to “expedite suitable discharges home or to community care beds”.

It advised that “anyone with a serious injury or unexpected illness should come to ED or call 999/112, but with all sites in a state of escalation, it’s likely that anyone presenting to ED with less than urgent healthcare needs will face a lengthy wait”.

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