“Extreme measures” taken at the University Hospital Limerick (UHL) “have helped reduce the extreme levels of overcrowding”, however, the wait for an inpatient bed is “still too high”, says the UL Hospitals Group.
The Hospital Crisis Management Team declared a “major internal incident” on 2 January and took several “extraordinary measures”, including a pilot project to reduce overcrowding at the hospital.
The measures included a significant reduction in scheduled care, opening up surge capacity at UHL, Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s Hospitals at surge capacity, and transferring emergency patients to trolleys in inpatient care.
The pilot project allows paramedics answering emergency calls to conduct an initial assessment of the patients and deliver them to the appropriate hospital. UHL will cater to patients who require emergency and sophisticated care.
A final-year student of medicine from the University of Galway commends these measures.
“I think it’s a decent idea, sifting the crowd based on severity,” he said.
He added that the accuracy of the judgements made by paramedics needs to be considered, along with the staffing across the various hospitals.
He said that “solving the staffing issues, the lacklustre facilities and the lack of capacity” should be focused on to solve overcrowding issues in the long-term.
Rain Yan, the convener of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences for the University of Galway Students’ Union, says that this might be an “added workload” to the already overworked paramedics.
She adds that in the long run, this responsibility should land with senior health officers, the registrars, and the interns at the hospital and says that “it could only be feasible” given those circumstances.
Rain also says that paramedics evaluating every emergency call they respond to could be time-consuming, further shortening resources.