People are being told to expect long delays at Limerick hospital
Tipperary people have been warned to expect long delays at the Emergency Department in University Hospital Limerick due to an increase in the number of people presenting with respiratory and flu symptoms.
The warning came from UHL chief Prof Colette Cowan.
“We are currently seeing a high number of frail elderly patients with complex medical needs who require admission. Respiratory conditions and flu are on the increase and people attending the Emergency Department can regrettably expect long waits in many instances as the sickest patients are prioritised," she said.
While encouraging people to attend their Local Injury Unit, she said that people who are seriously injured or ill should continue to come to the Emergency Department, where they will receive the appropriate care.
There were 1,301 attendances to the Emergency Department at UHL between December 24 and December 30 and this rose to 1,343 attendances in the seven-day period December 31 to January 6.
The Christmas / New Year period has also proven busy for the injury units at St John’s and Ennis and Nenagh hospitals.
Between December 24 and January 1, there were a total of 790 attendances to the three units combined, an aggregate increase of 6.5 per cent.
The numbers attending at Ennis were 245 (-18); at Nenagh 251 (+21) and at St John’s 294 (+45).
Ms Cowan said that Limerick was currently operating at capacity and all available surge capacity was in use.
Initiatives introduced under the winter plan - such as expanding the Acute Medical Assessment Unit and increasing access to diagnostics in the evenings – had assisted in terms of patient flow. Additional lists for emergency surgery had proven to be of great benefit as there was a significant number of trauma presentations over the Christmas / New Year period, she said.
Ms Cowan also encouraged people to get the flu vaccination from their GP or pharmacist.
“Over the last month, there have been over 30 patients with influenza admitted across UL Hospitals Group, with a number of patients seriously unwell. The vaccine this year is a good match for the circulating strains, including H1N1, and we are encouraging members of the public to protect themselves and their loved ones by getting the vaccine. Anyone who is concerned about flu-like symptoms should contact their GP or out-of-hours service in the first instance and anyone who does present to hospital with flu-like symptoms should immediately notify our staff so that appropriate precautions can be taken,” Ms Cowan said.