The Mid West hospital campaign has secured a meeting with HSE CEO Bernard Gloster later this week to speak directly to him of their ongoing concerns about the continued overcrowding at the region's only emergency department at University Hospital in Limerick.

The campaign group led a public march in the city last January in which 11,000 people took part, demanding better delivery of ED services and an end to the chronic overcrowding for the people of the region.

The group is seeking the reopening of the emergency departments at both Nenagh and Ennis hospitals as a way of easing the overcrowding at the ED at UHL, which has been going on since services were reconfigured in early 2009, concentrating all emergency services at University Hospital Limerick, and downgrading the ED's in the regional hospitals at Ennis and Nenagh.

The group say just one ED for a population of 400,000 people is simply not enough.

The ED at UHL is the second busiest in the country with almost 80,000 attendances last year. There were 87 patients waiting on trolleys at UHL’s ED and on wards today, and 90 patients yesterday according to the INMO's trolley watch tables - still the highest daily figures in the country.

Noleen Moran, one of groups representatives, says the meeting presents them with a unique opportunity to press home their concerns at the core difficulties in the delivery of health policy in the Mid West since the beginning of the now failed reconfiguration policy of the late 2000’s.

They are seeking measures to tackle overcrowding, and they are also insisting that the ED’s at both Ennis and Nenagh are reopened which they believe would ease the overcrowding.

The HSE has said that the re-opening of those ED facilities is not an option at this time, but they have upgraded resources at the medical assessment units at both hospitals and have extended cover there to 24 hours, seven days a week.

The University of Limerick Hospital group has also said that the construction of a second 96-bed block at its campus in Dooradoyle is to be accelerated, following an announcement by both the Minister of Health Stephan Donnelly and the HSE last week.

It is to be built alongside a 96-bed unit currently under construction since last September. Planning permission will be sought in the coming months for the new works.

CEO of the UL hospitals group, Prof Colette Cowan, said that the delivery of the second block would go a significant way towards addressing the well documented shortfall of inpatient bed capacity in UHL and the Mid West region.

Prof Cowan added: "The announcement is particularly welcome at a time when contractors are making great progress on the first 96-bed block, which was formally launched by the Minister last September.

"That development will not be sufficient in itself to address our historic shortfall in bed capacity, so this latest announcement is a significant step forward, and we will work with HSE Capital & Estates and national leadership to progress the various planning, procurement and capital funding approvals necessary to ultimately create the capacity that will meet the healthcare need of the people of the Mid West, she said.