Wednesday 23 October 2019

'A complete zoo' - A&E patients relive ordeals of hours on trolley

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Patients have given emotional testimonies of overcrowded A&Es, describing one as "a complete zoo".

Another patient recalled the hardship of enduring four days on a trolley in a noisy, draughty corridor.

The damning comments were made in the latest National Patient Experience Survey, which asks people to score various aspects of their care.

Other patients who attended the same A&E departments reported positive experiences.

Nationally, some 5,997 patients - 69pc of those who responded - waited more than six hours on a trolley before getting a bed.

Rushed staff on wards and being discharged home from hospital without enough advice on drug side effects were also major grievances.

University Hospital Limerick got the lowest individual overall score and the Royal College of Surgeons hospital group, which includes Beaumont and Connolly Hospitals, was the worst group.

The Department of Health-commissioned survey, carried out by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa), found 84pc of patients - equivalent to 13,000 - said that they had a good or a very good overall experience .

There was particular praise for the kindness of many staff.

But patients treated in one hospital spoke of being distressed at hearing personal medical history being discussed in a hallway.

Some patients complained that staff were too rushed to speak to them about their concerns on ward.

One person recalled: "I saw patients in the ward crying alone each evening."

Some 27pc also gave hospital food a lukewarm review, saying it was "poor" or "fair."

It is the largest survey of its kind in Ireland and ran for the second time in May of this year.

Rachel Flynn of Hiqa who conducted the survey said: "The majority of patients, once they were admitted to a ward, spoke positively of hospital care.

"However, their experiences in the emergency department were less favourable. While improvements in the discharge processes were identified, there is still room for improvement in this area.

"The results of the survey indicate that patients want staff to provide them and their families with more information about their treatment, and would like to be involved in decisions about their care and discharge."

Health Minister Simon Harris, who launched the survey, said the findings "give an invaluable insight into the experiences of patients in our hospitals".

It comes as the emergency department taskforce considered the HSE's winter plan to tackle the trolley crisis yesterday.

It emerged that there are around 140 hospital beds closed for various reasons. Hospital consultants also warned of potential industrial action over new recruits' pay.

Irish Independent

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