This is a very busy period for our health services, with many hospitals reporting significant numbers of patient attendances. For the first six months of 2019, the number of patients attending hospital Emergency Departments (EDs) increased by 3.6%, and the number of ED admissions increased by 2.5% compared to the same period last year.
University Hospital Limerick (UHL) has one of the busiest EDs in the country. Despite a 4.7% reduction in the number of patients waiting on trolleys at 8am in EDs nationally in the first six months of 2019 compared to the same period last year, the number of patients recorded waiting on trolleys at 8am in UHL ED increased by 14% in this period compared to last year.
UHL was identified as one of the nine focus sites requiring additional investment and support during the winter period 2018/2019. This included additional home support packages, transitional care beds, and bed capacity. A further €1 million in funding was allocated to University Hospital Limerick for enhanced measures during the Winter Plan Focus Period. Key initiatives included extended opening hours in the AMAU, the opening of a surgical short stay unit, and additional access to diagnostics.
An independent expert review aimed at identifying the specific factors that contributed to performance over the winter period is now under way. The group will carry out a comparative analysis of unscheduled care performance across the nine hospital sites and the relevant Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs) that were the subject of specific focused support through Winter 2018/2019. This will include UHL and CHO Mid-West. My Department and the HSE will receive the report of the independent review group and its recommendations in due course.
In relation to the Deputy's specific question about fire safety at UHL ED, I have asked the HSE to provide a response to the Deputy directly.