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Statement on Emergency Department and Alternative Care Options

(LIMERICK: 06.02.2024) AS University Hospital Limerick continues to experience very high levels of activity, members of the public are being asked to consider all available care options before presenting to the Emergency Department (ED).

At 8am this Tuesday morning, a total of 46 admitted patients were being accommodated on trolleys, in cubicles and in single rooms in our Emergency Department and a further 42 admitted patients were being accommodated on trolleys on our inpatient wards.

While we have seen a reduction nationally in the numbers of Covid-19 and flu patients in hospital, there are still high levels of respiratory illness in circulation and affecting our hospitals. The latest available national report shows that in the first three weeks of 2024, presentations to the ED at UHL increased by 28% on last year and emergency admissions by 17%. This trend is more pronounced still among the over 75s with ED presentations having increased by 39% in the first three weeks of the year and emergency admissions by 34%.

This trend has continued in recent days with an average of 240 daily presentations over the past seven days, an increase on 219 daily presentations during 2023, our busiest year on record.

The Emergency Department remains open 24/7 and urgent care is being delivered to those who need it most. Anyone who comes to ED who doesn’t have a life-threatening or severe illness or injury will face a significant wait.

We are asking the public to consider all care options, including their GPs, pharmacists and GP out of hours services before presenting at Emergency Departments (EDs).

UHL is currently at its highest state of escalation. Surge capacity has been opened at UHL and across our hospitals. Elective activity is being reviewed on a daily basis across all of our hospitals.

Injury Units and Medical Assessment Units in our model 2 hospitals at Ennis, Nenagh and St John's are also experiencing an increase in demand. It is encouraging to see this increase in demand for services available in our model 2 hospitals as more patients choose alternatives to the ED.

We apologise to anyone who has had a long wait for admission to University Hospital Limerick in recent days. We thank the public for their patience and support at this time of exceptionally high demand for our services.

Choosing appropriate care

Everyone in the area can help reduce pressure on the ED by considering all the options available to them if they need medical attention. These are listed those below.

However, the public should be assured that anyone who is seriously injured or ill, or worried their life may be at risk, will be assessed for treatment in the Emergency Department as a priority.

Where should people go for care?

We ask everyone in the area to understand the available care options and to avoid the ED except in cases of severe or life-threatening illness or injury.

This will really help us prioritise urgent care for those who need it most. At the same time, you’ll be treated in a fraction of the time you would have spent at the ED.

For breaks, burns and other minor injuries

Injury Units treat broken bones, dislocations, sprains strains, wounds, scalds and minor burns. They are open seven days a week in:

  • Ennis, 065 686 3121, V95 HN29: 8am to 8pm
  • Nenagh, 067 42311, E45 PT86: 8am to 8pm
  • St John’s, Limerick, 061 462 222, V94 H272: 8am to 7pm.

For other less serious illnesses or conditions

Contact your GP or out-of-hours GP services or talk to your local pharmacist.

Shannondoc: If you have a medical issue that requires urgent attention, call Shannondoc on Lo-call 0818 123500 or on 061 459500(Operating hours: Monday – Friday 6pm - 8am; Weekends and Public holidays Open 24 hour)

How can I get updates?

Please check @HSELive and @ULHospitals on Twitter/X or hse.iefor the latest and most reliable news