overcrowding crisis | 

Protesters march on University Hospital Limerick as they demand local A&Es be reopened

In January, UHL was forced to declare a “major internal incident” due to never-before-seen levels of severe overcrowding.

UHL protesters. Photo: Brendan Gleeson

UHL protesters. Photo: Brendan Gleeson

A&E protesters at UHL

Edel HughesSunday World

Dozens marched in Limerick today to demand the reopening of regional A&Es amid ongoing overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

The embattled hospital has been plagued by overcrowding in its A&E unit since the closures and downgrading of other local A&E units.

Emergency departments in Nenagh, Ennis and St John's Hospitals have had their A&E departments either fully closed or curtailed for more than a decade, which has seen UHL inundated, resulting in patients often on trolleys for days before being admitted to a bed.

In January, UHL was forced to declare a “major internal incident” due to never-before-seen levels of severe overcrowding.

A&E protesters at UHL

In the past five weeks, a total of 3,376 patients have waited on trolleys in UHL and other hospitals in the area while there were 79 patients waiting for a bed in the hospital yesterday.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visited the hospital recently and met with family members of patients affected by the overcrowding, including some whose loved ones died at UHL.

Mike Daly, whose father Mike Senior, died at the hospital, was among the organisers who marched with a banner, calling for the reopening for A&Es in the Mid-West region.

The protesters chanted: “Listen up H S E...give us back our A&Es” and “People waiting hour on hour - now we're here with people power.”

The crowd of around 40 people marched from the Crescent Shopping Centre car park to a green area in front of the hospital where they congregated for approximately an hour.

UHL protesters. Photo: Brendan Gleeson

Mr Daly told sundayworld.com that he and the other protesters plan to escalate their action with a further protest planned for May.

He said many people were unaware of today’s demonstration and believes his Facebook posts were not reaching as many people as he had hoped despite having posted about the protest for the past six weeks.

Although there was a small attendance today, Mr Daly believes that hundreds will turn out for the next protest which he plans to advertise in local newspapers and on the radio with the support of two local businessmen.

A whopping 11,000 people turned out at a similar protest in January and Mr Daly says “there’s another 100,000 people at home who want the A&Es opened too.”

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