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Tipperary overcrowding: Limerick hospital told to adhere to initial fire safety assessment

Hospital admits it's an 'ongoing challenge'

Tipperary Star reporter

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University Hospital Limerick has responded to comments by a Tipperary councillor that it had received a report from the chief fire officer in Limerick on conditions at its Emergency Department.

Cllr Seamus Morris of Nenagh had issued documents sent to him by the fire officer saying a fire safety inspection had been carried out on March 26, 2019, and a report issued to hospital management.

However, the hospital’s CEO Prof Colette Cowan told Cllr Morris no such report had been received.

Now, the hospital has said that the fire officer visited and told the hospital it must adhere to the fire risk assessment carried out by independent fire safety engineering consultants ahead of the opening of the ED.

“A senior fire prevention officer inspected the Emergency Department (ED) at UHL on March 26, 2019. Following the visit, the chief fire officer reiterated the requirement to adhere to the fire risk assessment conducted by independent fire safety engineering consultants in a report commissioned by UL Hospitals Group ahead of the opening of the ED. This is the only fire safety report that has been conducted for the new ED at UHL.

“UL Hospitals works daily to adhere to criteria as set out in this independent report. However, in the absence of sufficient bed capacity this remains an ongoing challenge for the group,” a spokesperson said.

The response came after Cllr Morris called on the fire service in Limerick to clarify who it sent a fire inspection of University Hospital Limerick to after the head of the hospital group said none had been received by them.

Cllr Morris had called on Limerick Fire Service to inspect the hospital in the wake of serious overcrowding at the facility.

He released details last month from the fire service saying it had carried out an inspection on March 26 and correspondence was subsequently issued to hospital management by the chief fire officer.

However, in further documents released by the Independent councillor last week, Prof Colette Cowan, CEO of University Limerick Hospital Group, said that she had been in contact with the relevant staff and had been informed that University Hospital Group had not received a safety report relating to University Hospital Limerick from the fire service.

Cllr Morris had called on the fire service to confirm that the safety report was sent, who it was sent to, if an acknowledgement was received and from whom.

Cllr Morris also said that it was now time to ask hospital management to answer to the Oireachtas for the conditions at UHL facing staff and patients at the ED.

“Hospital management recently apologised for the conditions there and it is clear that they need to take their message to the Oireachtas in order to show this Government that the people in the Mid West are being treated like second class citizens when it comes to emergency health services,” he said.

“In all of this madness conditions were worsened when UL Hospital management closed a 17-bed unit at UHL. Recently, Nenagh Hospital had to close its local injury clinic early due to staffing issues, piling on more pressure on the ED in UHL,” said Cllr Morris.

He pointed out that the National Planning Framework had left it open to bring back 24-hour ED in Ennis, but the people of North Tipperary were “being left to suffer horrific ED conditions”.