Despite the opening of a new Emergency Department in University Hospital Limerick, the hospital continues to suffer severe overcrowding, a situation that should serve as a warning to Galway and its own A&E crisis.
This is the view of Social Democrats Galway representative Niall Ó Tuathail, who claims Galway needs to invest in community care teams if it is to solve the pressure on UHG.
Mr Ó Tuathail, who works as an advisor to Britain’s NHS on health reform, acknowledged that UHG needs a new Emergency Department, but says it will “not be a silver bullet” for overcrowding. He believes overcrowding can only be reduced by a combination of reducing the number of people going to A&E, increasing staffing and beds to treat more patients, and getting people home quickly and safely when they don’t need to be in hospital.
Mr Ó Tuathail is calling on the HSE to launch targeted community care teams aimed at “elderly residents, people with complex long-term conditions, and people with severe mental health issues”.
“The international evidence shows that giving preventative and quick response services to these groups of people can improve their health, keep their independence and dignity, and avoid them going into hospital,” he said. “If they do have to go into hospital, the community team plans from day one for what services are needed when they can leave.”