'Crazy and manic' A&E has 50 patients stuck on trolleys
PATIENTS on trolleys are jammed back to back in corridors, while others awaiting treatment in a much sought-after cubicle in the treatment area lie weary in chairs.
The scene yesterday at University Hospital Galway, which nowadays also has to cater for extra patients following the closure of the A&E Department at Roscommon County Hospital last year, showed why it usually features at the top of the 'Trolley Watch' figures compiled by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.
Yesterday, there were 50 patients on trolleys in A&E at the hospital. Many of them will spend at least 24 hours there, waiting their turn to be seen by the relevant specialist.
The only available space at the emergency department in the biggest hospital in the West is for door openings. Family members have to flatten themselves against the walls whenever a hospital attendant wheels a patient to another location.
One patient who endured an overnight wait on a trolley described the conditions as "crazy and manic".
The INMO said that 2011 was the worst year on record for patients on trolleys, with 86,481 left waiting for a bed in A&E departments across the country.
The figures are 14pc up on the 2010 numbers.
Remarkably, the numbers on trolleys in Dublin hospitals fell by 6pc, but jumped by 33pc in hospitals outside the capital.
Numbers shot up by 59pc in Galway and by a massive 639pc at St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny.
Yesterday, Galway once again topped the daily 'Trolley Watch' list with 50 patients, followed by Dublin's Beaumont Hospital, which has 39 patients waiting on trolleys.
The Mater in Dublin and Naas General Hospital had 26, followed by Cork University Hospital at 23.
Kevin Creaven from Corandulla, Co Galway, had arrived at A&E in Galway University Hospital on Tuesday morning.
He had suffered two seizures while on holiday in New York on January 5 and been rushed by ambulance to the NY Downtown Hospital.
"I got the first seizure while in a clothing store at about 6.30pm and an ambulance took me to the hospital. They took blood tests and these were back in less than an hour and I was seen by all the necessary medical people.
"They gave me a letter outlining what they found and told me to go straight to my own emergency department when I got back to Ireland. I was discharged at 9.45pm, just over three hours after being admitted," Mr Creaven said.
He waited in the ante-room at A&E in Galway until he was called at almost 6pm. He was initially advised that he would be admitted but remained on a trolley in the corridor overnight.
"It was crazy, manic overnight. There were trolleys all over the place -- it was like Heuston station, with people coming and going. The nurses were fantastic, but I couldn't say much about the rest of it", he said.
At lunchtime yesterday, more than 24 hours since he came through the door, he was still on the trolley. He was eventually discharged and told to report back as an outpatient.
HSE West said in a statement that the 'Full Capacity Protocol' remained in place at the hospital yesterday while it was planned to open a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week Acute Medical Unit (AMU) at UHG later this month.
"The AMU will be a dedicated location for the rapid assessment, diagnosis and commence- ment of appropriate treatment of patients who present with acute medical problems," the statement said.
Chairman of the HSE West Health Forum Councillor Padraig Conneely said he was aware of patients who had had to wait on trolleys at the A&E department for up to three days.
He called on Health Minister James Reilly to show greater flexibility in allowing the hospital management's efforts to tackle the crisis.