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Limerick Regional Hospital: A&E Crisis: 17/01/07


PRESS RELEASE, Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

The crisis that arose in the A&E Department of the Mid-West Regional Hospital, Limerick yesterday, which saw 36 patients on trolleys awaiting in-beds and ambulances disabled while waiting for trolleys, was alleviated following a multidisciplinary team meeting at 1.00p.m. and a directive from the senior management of the HSE which eventually meant that beds were made available on the wards following discharge of patients by consultants.

The critical contributing factor to the problem in Limerick on Tuesday, as confirmed to us by a very senior manager in the HSE, was that consultants at the hospital did not discharge patients at the weekend and this then led to a back up in the demands for the service and the situation which arose yesterday.

Speaking this morning, INO Industrial Relations Officer, Mary Fogarty said:

“Comments made in the media by Dr Coleman O’Leary, A&E Consultant were unhelpful and unfounded.  If Dr O’Leary had ever attended the escalation meetings which are held at 8 am in the hospital, in an attempt to alleviate overcrowding, he would be correctly informed that it is not HSE policy to place patients on trolleys in already overcrowded wards and no directive has been issued in this regard.   At no point was it suggested that trolleys should be moved to wards and the problem arose in the discharge of patients by consultants.”

The INO has a clear policy on this matter and we do not support and will not cooperate with any initiative which overcrowds existing overworked wards and has the potential to compromise the patient care of the total patient population in a hospital. Placing additional beds on wards was tried in the past and uniformly found not to address or correct overcrowding in A&E Departments which, without exception, continued unabated in all cases.

This practice also appeared to enable consultants to relinquish their responsibility when it came to discharging patients in a timely fashion from hospital.  Placing trolleys on wards and overcrowding every ward in the hospital is therefore not the solution to this problem. 

Ms Fogarty continued: “Dr O’Leary and his colleagues would be of greater benefit to staff and patients if they put their energies into attending regular meetings on A&E overcrowding and supporting new initiatives such as a chest pain clinic and a minor injuries unit for which there is already funding available but has not been utilised.

If Dr O’ Leary thinks that moving the trolleys up to the wards is a solution to the problem then I would suggest that he poorly informed about past failed initiatives, guarding his own patch, and, that he needs to stop criticising the INO but, instead, learn what we have tried to bring forward, over the past 5 years, to have A&E overcrowding addressed in every hospital.

The proactive, multidisciplinary, approach, as was demonstrated yesterday, is what is needed to address the overcrowding problems at this hospital as well as the other initiatives mentioned above.

The only interest that our members have, on all wards including the A&E in this hospital, is proper patient care and a safe working environment.

We are now calling on the HSE to undertake a review of discharge practices at Limerick Regional Hospital.”



PR Jan/Feb 2007
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Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (Cumann Altrai agus Ban Cabhrach na hEireann). The Whitworth Building, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7. T:+353 1 664 0600 E:inmo@inmo.ie