Hospital distributes new survival packs to patients on trolleys
It's cold comfort for a hospital patient who must spend a night on a trolley - but a new survival pack, complete with socks and ear plugs, may make the ordeal more bearable.
The pack of essentials is being distributed to patients who are facing long delays in the A&E department of St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin - one of the worst hit by the trolley crisis.
The neat see-through plastic pouch includes an eye mask, ear plugs, toothbrush and toothpaste.
The patient is also given water wipes and the all-important pair of socks to keep out the draught if the hospital blanket is too short.
A spokeswoman for the hospital confirmed yesterday that it is running a trial of the comfort packs in its emergency department.
"The trial commenced on May 8 and will conclude at the end of this month," she said.
Tallaght Hospital emergency department consultant Dr James Gray, who tweeted a picture of the pack on Twitter, commented: "Humanitarian yes, but surely solution is a hospital bed."
Dr Gray, who is a strong critic of emergency department overcrowding, pointed out that elderly people in particular can suffer a form of sensory torture by languishing on a hospital trolley for many hours on end.
The "constant light and frequent noise" as the sounds of staff, monitors and alarms interrupt sleep adds to the suffering of the patient, he pointed out.
The emergency department of St Vincent's has endured some of the worst gridlock over the winter months although the number of patients lying on trolleys yesterday morning was down to 10.
There were 35 patients waiting for a bed in University Hospital Limerick and 25 at Galway University Hospital.
Recent weeks have seen a slowing down in overcrowding although hospitals away from the capital continue to be under pressure.
Cork University Hospital, University Hospital Limerick, South Tipperary General Hospital, the Mater Hospital Dublin and University Hospital Galway endured the highest level of overcrowding.
Meanwhile, informal talks are to continue next week in a bid to defuse the dispute over the ownership new €300m National Maternity Hospital which will be constructed next to St Vincent's Hospital.
Health Minister Simon Harris said that before entering into any construction contract, he will sanction the necessary arrangements to ensure that the facilities are legally secured on an on-going basis for the delivery of publicly-funded maternity, gynaecology and neonatal services.
A final outcome to the talks is is due at the end of the month, he added.