Overcrowding in UHL a scarcity of sources, and a political failure


The Well being Data and High quality Authority (HIQA) launched stories on six public hospitals yesterday which that they had monitored over the past six months, writes Terence Cosgrave

It’s fascinating, albeit miserable studying. The hospitals in query have been College Hospital Limerick, the Rotunda, Letterkenny, the Coombe, Belmullet Neighborhood Hospital and Nenagh.

It’s reassuring to know that in most of those inspections, the hospitals involved have been principally compliant with nationwide requirements. You possibly can view the outcomes your self right here.

With one main exception. It gained’t come as a shock to you that College Hospital Limerick – which was assessed on 4 nationwide requirements – was discovered to be ‘considerably’ compliant in just one, and solely partially compliant within the different three.

HIQA famous that because the final inspection, the hospital has made enhancements in resourcing, helps and alternate pathways. It has established an Pressing and Emergency Care Directorate to co-ordinate the strategic and operational perform of the emergency and pressing care companies throughout the six hospitals within the UL hospital group.

Staffing has elevated in all disciplines within the ED, and knowledge offered by the hospital reveals a rise in exercise in lots of companies to help affected person stream and higher compliance with HSE efficiency metrics associated to unscheduled care.

Regardless of this, the affected person expertise occasions for sufferers within the ED continued to fall considerably wanting nationwide targets. This on-going mismatch between the variety of individuals attending the ED and the hospital’s capability resulted in an overcrowded ED with sufferers admitted to the hospital persevering with to be accommodated within the ED.

On the day of inspection at 10 a.m. 32 of the 82 sufferers within the ED have been admitted and awaiting a mattress.

This overcrowding – which HIQA admits has been lowered from the earlier inspection ‘impacted on the significant promotion of dignity and privateness for sufferers’. One thing of an understatement.

This isn’t stunning, and doubtless not even information to you. It’s not information to anybody who has been following the Irish well being service, even the reluctant fan. It’s a sore thumb – an apparent on-going downside, as apparent, as is the answer – extra beds in Limerick. With out that, this downside goes to proceed and proceed. And after we ask whose fault that is, the present Minister will give us some claptrap about all of the work they’re doing to enhance issues, however they’re sticking band-aids on an enormous wound. It’s by no means sufficient.

It’s not the fault of UHL – they’re working in addition to they’ll underneath the circumstances. It’s merely a scarcity of sources, and a political failure.

We stay in a time when authorities is placing away cash to pay for the big money owed they’ve constructed up by offering gold-plated pensions all around the public service. It’s not the case that our public service are significantly overpaid – although most individuals within the public service earn greater than they’d within the personal sector – however that distinction is dwarfed after we have a look at pensions.

Pensions within the public sector are price 80 per cent greater than these within the personal sector, whereas the median wage for public sector staff in 2022 was €52,288 in contrast with €37,286 within the personal sector.

There’s an enormous disparity there. Regardless of the kind of revenue that staff can obtain in high-tech and pharma occupations which drive our tax base, the overwhelming majority of personal sector staff earn far, far lower than their public sector counterparts. In a booming economic system, you’ll count on that to be reversed.

But it surely’s not. As a substitute, the federal government is placing away cash now in order that it could possibly pay these gold-plated pensions a few years therefore. In the meantime, UHL languishes with not sufficient beds to fulfil its fundamental requirement to stick to nationwide requirements.

It’s fallacious to say there isn’t cash. There’s plenty of cash, it’s simply being spent on different issues. And different individuals.

It’s going to most likely take a court docket case – perhaps even at European degree – for the federal government to grasp that their job entails greater than taking care of individuals in Dublin and public servants, like themselves.

The 2 nice failures in Irish politics are the failure to supply equality in lots of companies – together with the well being service, and to disregard these issues the place the issues don’t have any vocal advocates.

Individuals mendacity on trolleys can’t advocate for themselves. They’ve neither the power nor the time to conduct a 40-year marketing campaign just like the family of the victims of the Stardust catastrophe. And so, they endure indignity, neglect, and even, in some circumstances, demise. And all of it doesn’t matter as a result of we’ve acquired to pay the large pensions out, and now we have all these very good hospitals in Dublin to take care of the civil servants and ensure they keep alive in order that we will pay these unbelievable pensions for a very long time.

However in the meantime in Limerick, whereas cash is being funnelled elsewhere, individuals in one of many richest nations on this planet are mendacity on trolleys and talking about their life-or-death points in public. It’d as effectively be on the web that you’ve got a tube hooked up to your privates. For any passing stranger to listen to. No person can actually blame them for being a tad upset.

The nurses’ union, the INMO believes that by fast-tracking the Affected person Security (Licensing) Invoice – which might give HIQA extra powers – can be the reply. They are saying that HIQA’s powers must transcend inspection and remark. They name for the federal government to publish and prioritise the passing of the Invoice which they are saying would give HIQA the powers to make sure its suggestions are being enacted by particular person hospitals and healthcare settings it inspects.

However would it not actually? What may HIQA do to implement what must be accomplished in Limerick? The employees in Limerick can create all of the affected person pathways that they need, however finally, that’s a highway to nowhere with out cash. Passing the buck right here to HIQA is a (forgive me) hospital move. HIQA can’t present the funding that’s wanted.

The issue is one in every of imaginative and prescient. Dublin has coping mechanisms for overflow – there are different hospitals to go to. Limerick isn’t Dublin. It must fulfil the wants of the inhabitants by itself.

Due to this fact – and like many different hospitals across the nation – it wants greater than Dublin to deal with that overflow. However a Dublin-centric thoughts can’t comprehend that, and even the necessity for it. So long as the Beacon, the Mater and Blackrock are there to nurse our public servants again to well being to take pleasure in their pensions, what’s the purpose of Limerick actually?

Please additionally see ‘It’s so troublesome to sleep within the hall’ – UHL inspection finds affected person occasions beneath goal’.


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