Must think outside the box to tackle hospital overcrowding

  • Meeting held between HSE and Oireachtas members
  • Number of measures must now be considered


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is calling for outside-the-box thinking when it comes to tackling hospital overcrowding in the Midwest – up to and including the use of local hotels for short-term bed capacity.

It follows a meeting held this morning between Midwest Oireachtas members, the UL Hospitals Group and the HSE, attended by an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and chaired by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.

“I think the current crisis demands a thinking outside-the-box approach and we saw how successful that worked during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Deputy Crowe.

“There was a time when using hotel bedrooms and larger communal rooms, such as function rooms, to provide public healthcare would have been unthinkable, indeed many would have scoffed at the idea but there is a trialled and tested precedent in recent years.

“Prior to Covid, management at the UHL Maternity Hospital procured rooms at Limerick’s Strand Hotel and during Covid countless sports halls, large public venues and hotels were swiftly converted into acute healthcare environments.

“It is widely anticipated that a further 96 bed block will be applied for UHL this year but the construction and fulfilment of that could take more than 2 years and I don’t think the mid-west region can wait that long.

“Management at Tallaght University Hospital acquired a vacant retail building, across the road from their main hospital building, to open the Reeves Day Surgery Centre in 2020; by the same token, I has suggested to the Taoiseach, Minister Stephen Donnelly and Professor Colette Cowan that the Limerick South Court Hotel, less than a kilometre from UHL, should be considered as an additional capacity building option on an interim basis.

“In terms of other pressure-alleviating measures are concerned, I am becoming increasingly confident that the HSE will enhance operations at Nenagh General Hospital’s Medical Assessment Unit so, like Ennis General Hospital, it will be able to receive ambulances and provide immediate care to patients who have been triaged and screened by paramedics.”