Independent Clare TD Michael McNamara has called on the Government to publish the terms of reference for an expert team that is being deployed by the HSE to review the issues surrounding chronic overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

Addressing Taoiseach Micheál Martin during Questions on Promised Legislation in Dáil Éireann today, Deputy McNamara also raised the potential for the greater utilisation of Model 2 hospitals, such as Ennis, St John’s and Nenagh, to help alleviate pressure on UHL.

“When will this expert team report, to whom will they report, will their report be published, what are their terms of reference?” asked Deputy McNamara. “Will it include looking at whether some of the Model 2 hospitals in the region require to be upgraded to deal with the population of the Midwest, because we need a long-term solution as well as a short-term solution to the particular problems of overcrowding in UHL.”

While confirming he would provide a written response to Deputy McNamara’s questions around the expert team’s reporting, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said, “Despite all of the negativity around health services the bottom line is that we have moved from being 16th in the European Union league table in terms of lifespan and life expectancy to number one. Now, that’s due to a whole range of public health measures, but also investments in health, in cardiology, oncology, stroke and so on. But we have real issues in terms of emergency admission.”

He continued, “The problem is the recruitment of senior clinicians tends to be towards the tertiary hospitals and all the Royal Colleges of anaesthesia to whatever talk of the need for high-volume activity located in the tertiary hospital, and we have had this debate for 25 years.”

The Taoiseach concluded by stating that the expert team’s report would “have immediate impact in terms of systems and flow through the hospitals.”