News Health

Monday 5 December 2016

Cancer patient would prefer 'to throw himself in the river' than attend A&E department

Published 02/04/2016 | 07:25

Photo: PA
Photo: PA

A GP has told how one of his patients, who has cancer, was so distressed at having to attend the emergency department of University Hospital Galway that he said he would prefer to "throw himself in the river."

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Dr Greg Kelly, a family doctor in Castlerea in Roscommon deplored the practice of forcing cancer patients to attend a hospital emergency department if they feel very unwell rather than having direct access to care.

The male patient developed complications due to chemotherapy and needed specialist care but he was frightened of having to spend days on a trolley "in the centre of excellence."

The trolley crisis was leading to the abuse of the most vulnerable people in the country, he told the annual meeting of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) in Sligo.

Dr Kelly said had to try to persuade the man that he needed to attend hospital and he intervened to arrange for him to Roscommon Hospital instead.

Earlier, Dr Peadar Gilligan, emergency consultant in Beaumont Hospital called on fellow medics to support doctors who are highlighting the extent of the trolley crisis.

"This is not an issue to divide doctors. This is not an issue that should be pitching one doctor against another. We need to be united in saying overcrowding in emergency departments must stop."

Blaming an emergency doctor for highlighting the problems is akin to blaming the a firefighter for a fire, he added.

He said it is well known that overcrowding leads to increased risk of death and illness in patients.

Thirty years ago a stroke patient would have had little done for them but now within thirty minutes of arrival they receive a CT scan and other treatments, he added.

Meanwhile,the HSE is to defend a legal action taken by hospital consultants to try to recoup around €250m in pay which they claim was wrongly withheld.

The IMO confirmed it had lodged legal proceedings in the High Court to secure the release of salary increases which were due in 2009 under the terms of the 2008 Consultant Contract.

It said that reports in the media suggest the Attorney General is advising the Government that the HSE action can not be defended.

Dr Gilligan said that "given this reported view of the AG on this matter, we would question why the HSE would waste further taxpayer money by fighting this issue.” 

He said a recent Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) hearing on this matter and the reported advice of the Attorney General confirms the IMO position that this payment was illegally withheld.  The IMO will vigorously pursue this issue and will proceed with legal cases to the High Court unless the matter is settled                   

The IMO has been in dispute with the HSE on this issue since 2009 when the HSE unilaterally decided to withhold salary increases due at that time under the 2008 Contract.

"A recent Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) hearing on this matter and the reported advice of the Attorney General confirms the IMO position that this payment was illegally withheld.  The IMO will vigorously pursue this issue and will proceed with legal cases to the High Court unless the matter is settled.

He termed the HSE's decision to withhold the salary as an “abuse of their position as an employer”.

He added: “is it any wonder that the HSE is struggling to recruit doctors given their record as an employer.  Incidents like this feed the general crisis in morale amongst Irish doctors and directly contribute to the current exceptionally high emigration levels amongst Irish doctors."

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