Elective activity cancelled at UHL due to severe overcrowding

Photo © Pat Flynn

Elective activity has been cancelled at University Hospital Limerick until Friday due to severe overcrowding.

UL Hospitals Group say the move has been made to “de-escalate the site”, but outpatient clinics will continue to run.

Elective activity at the Group’s other hospitals is unaffected by this decision.

Management are encouraging the public to consider all their care options in the coming days, with higher than normal A&E admissions in recent days.

In the 24-hour period up to 8am on September 15th, a total of 238 patients attended the Emergency Department.

The full UL Hospitals Group statement:

UL Hospitals Group is reminding members of the public to consider all their care options before presenting to the Emergency Department at UHL this Tuesday, September 15th.

Elective activity at UHL has been cancelled for the remainder of this week (Wednesday to Friday) to de-escalate the site. This includes elective surgery and certain diagnostic procedures. Outpatient clinics will continue to run. We regret the impact these cancellations will have on patients who have been self-isolating in advance of coming for their procedure.

Affected patients are being contacted directly and will be rescheduled at the earliest opportunity. Elective activity at our other hospitals is unaffected by this decision.

In recent days, we have seen high volumes of patients attending, including many frail elderly patients requiring admission. In the 24-hour period up to 8am on September 15th, a total of 238 patients attended the Emergency Department. The average number of daily attendances during 2019 was 195. It follows an unusually busy weekend for the ED.

At 8am this morning there were 48 admitted patients in the ED waiting for a bed, of whom 25 were waiting in single rooms or cubicles and 23 were waiting on a corridor. Every effort is made to ensure physical distancing is maintained and to keep wait times to a minimum. All patients continue to receive expert medical care while they wait.

We expect that the ED will be busy throughout the day and we are reminding members of the public to consider all their care options before presenting to the department.

Injury units in Ennis and Nenagh are open from 8am to 8pm, and St John’s is open from 8am to 7pm. Injury Units are for the treatment of broken bones, dislocations, sprains strains, wounds, scalds and minor burns. More information on our Injury Units is available here.

Members of the public with a less serious illness can contact their GP or out of hours GP service.

Patients with symptoms of COVID -19 must contact their GP by phone in the first instance and not present in person at the GP surgery or the ED.

However, if you are seriously injured or ill or are worried your life is at risk the ED will assess and treat you as a priority.

We regret that any patient faces a long wait time for a bed and clinicians are currently undertaking additional ward rounds to identify patients suitable for discharge or transfer.

Measures being taken to relieve pressure on the ED and as part of our escalation policy also include the transfer of appropriate patients to community care settings and maximising access to homecare packages and transition care; working closely with Community Intervention Teams to provide antibiotics and other appropriate care in a patient’s home or care facility and communication with GPs to ensure patients are referred to ED only where appropriate.

Prof Brian Lenehan, Chief Clinical Director, UL Hospitals Group, said: “We are currently experiencing significant capacity challenges at UHL, such that we have unfortunately decided to cancel elective surgery at UHL for the remainder of the week. Such cancellations are provided for in our escalation plan as an option of last resort. We very much regret the impact this will have on patients, many of whom will have been waiting a long time for their procedure and taking all the necessary Covid-19 related precautions in advance of their elective admission. We will reschedule the affected patients as soon as possible.

Our immediate focus is on providing a safe environment for all patients, particularly in the context of the national public health emergency and ongoing increase in cases in the region and nationally. Our theatres will prioritise inpatients and acute emergency presentations for the remainder of this week and the situation is being kept under continuing review as we look to resume scheduled services next Monday, September 21st.”