Covid having major impact on hospital staffing levels

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Due to Covid infection and self-isolation, almost 400 staff members are off work across the UL Hospitals Group, which includes Nenagh.

Because of this, from today until Friday, most scheduled surgeries and outpatient appointments are being deferred in Nenagh, University Hospital Limerick, Ennis, St John’s and Croom hospitals.

Across the UL Hospital Group, there are currently 392 staff off work and self-isolating, having either tested positive for Covid or as a close contact.

This announcement comes as the hospitals anticipate more staff absences over the coming weeks.

Emergency and trauma theatre will continue to operate, as will time critical appointments.

The following are unaffected:

– Dialysis (UHL)
– Acute Fracture Clinic (UHL)
– Cancer services (oncology and haematology day ward; haematology and oncology OPD clinics; medical oncology clinics; rapid access clinics)
– Other outpatient clinics: Time-critical only following clinical decision, with patients being contacted in advance
– Paediatric clinics
– Ante-natal clinic; colposcopy clinic; diabetes in pregnancy clinic; elective c-sections and induction of labour (UMHL)

Anyone who is affected by the cancellations will be contacted directly by the hospital and this will be kept under continuous review.

UL Hospitals Group are also reminding members of the public that the Emergency Department (ED) at University Hospital Limerick is extremely busy and patients should consider all other care options before presenting to the ED.

The ED remains open for emergency care and patients should continue to present for life-threatening emergencies such as heart attack, stroke etc.

As an alternative to attending ED, people are urged to first consider the care options that are available in their communities, including family doctors, out-of-hours GP services, and local pharmacies. Injury units in Ennis and Nenagh are open from 8am to 8pm, and in St John’s from 8am to 7pm, seven days a week.

If you do have symptoms of Covid-19, it is important that you do not go to the Emergency Department or your GP. Ring them in advance for advice. Avoid contact with other people by self-isolating. In a medical emergency if you have severe symptoms, call 112 or 999.

UL Hospitals Group CEO, Colette Cowan, said: “We regret the impact that these cancellations will have on our patients.

“We will prioritise our most urgent patients for planned procedures and appointments next week and we look forward to increasing activity as soon as possible.

“The high levels of COVID-19 infection across our communities is having a significant impact on staffing levels and therefore it is imperative that we take the necessary precautions to ensure that time critical and emergency care can go ahead.

“I would like to remind people of the importance of following basic public health measures in the weeks and months ahead such as social distancing, washing their hands and limiting social contacts to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”