The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has expressed grave concern at the closure of the Acute Medical Assessment Unit at University Hospital Limerick to new GP referrals as a result of overcrowding.
The hospital told GPs in the region last week that the unit currently has no room for seriously ill patients referred there by GPs was due to “a major surge” in people presenting to the hospital’s Emergency Department since Christmas.
Dr Ray Walley, chairman of the IMO’s GP Committee, said the hospital’s decision has put seriously ill people and GPs in the region under “extreme pressure”.
“This shows the true state of the Irish health service as we enter 2014,” said Dr Walley.
“It shows a broken system that has no room for seriously ill people who need it. It beggars belief that the Government is cutting more services at a time when hospitals cannot treat people who have been referred there by their GP”.
Dr Walley said the move had also put huge pressure on neighbouring hospitals and resulted in even longer waiting times for patients when they present at these hospitals.
“This is a ludicrous situation where seriously ill patients are being forced on to A&E trolleys instead of being treated in the Acute Medical Assessment Unit and is completely unsustainable,” he said.
There were 17 people waiting on trolleys at University Hospital Limerick this Monday, with a further 12 at South Tipperary General Hospital, according to Trolley Watch.