I wish to acknowledge the distress overcrowded Emergency Departments cause to patients, their families, and frontline staff working in very challenging conditions in hospitals throughout the country.
My Department is engaging extensively with the HSE this year to identify mitigating actions to bring down trolley numbers and waiting times in the ED in the face of growing demand.
University Hospital Limerick (UHL) has one of the busiest EDs in the country. Despite an overall 4.7% reduction in the numbers of patients waiting on trolleys nationally in the first six months of 2019 compared to the same period last year, UHL has seen a 14% increase.
UHL was identified as one of the nine focus sites requiring additional investment, focus, and support during the winter period 2018/2019. An independent expert review of unscheduled care performance in EDs over the winter period is now under way, and this will include UHL, as one of the nine focus sites in the Winter Plan. While any final outputs, analysis, or recommendations of this review will be presented to the HSE and to my Department in due course, it is expected that preliminary findings will be considered in the context of planning for winter 2019/2020.
In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.