Thursday 23 November 2017

Health Minister 'embarrassed and ashamed' after brain haemorrhage grandfather died after lying on trolley for 12 hours

Joanne Moloney with a picture of her father Eddie (73). Photo: Marie McCallan/Press 22
Joanne Moloney with a picture of her father Eddie (73). Photo: Marie McCallan/Press 22

Ciara Tracey

The Minister for Health said he is "embarrassed and ashamed" after a grandfather, struck by a brain haemorrhage, died after lying on a trolley in a hospital corridor for 12 hours.

Eddie Moloney (73) was rushed to University Hospital Limerick’s emergency department last October where it was discovered he had a bleed in his brain.

Before his death, Mr Moloney was left on a trolley for hours and was left to die in a busy public ward, his children told RTÉ One’s ‘The Big Picture – Ireland’s Health Service’.

When he arrived, the emergency department was too busy to allocate a bed and he was left on a trolley for 12 hours.

“There was a brain scan done and that’s when they knew the extent of the bleed, that our father wouldn’t be waking up ever again,” his daughter Joanne said.

“It was chaos, it was a Friday night in the hospital.

“There was a lot of drunk people around on trollies.

“There was a drunk man right beside my father who was so drunk that when he went to sit up on his bed, he fell off his trolley and banged into my mother, while she was trying to rub my dad’s hands and talk to him.

“I was devastated for my mum, and the distress she was in.”

Joanne said she was “amazed” that there was not anywhere private for the family to go.

“They had said he wasn’t going to make it through the night,” Mr Moloney’s son Paul said.

“He was put [in the hallway] to die and again, it’s not the staff’s fault.

“No one who spends their whole life working should go through that at the end of life and that’s my whole thing as well, take care of these situations first. Before you take care of anything else in this country, the health service is absolutely at the top of the list, surely.”

Mr Moloney survived the night and was given a bed the next morning. He died a day later in a busy public ward with “little or no privacy”.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar responded to the Moloney’s case on the Claire Byrne Live debate which aired following the Prime Time report.

“I am deeply ashamed and embarrassed if anyone has that sort of end-of-life experience in our health service and it makes me more determined to do something about it,” the Minister said.

“The ideal situation of course is that any end of life patient should be in a private room.

University Hospital Limerick told RTÉ that it “regrets if any patient or their families has a poor experience”.

“Where possible, a patient identified as being at the end of life is prioritised for a bed,” it said.

“In a busy hospital environment, this is not always possible.”

It acknowledged that the emergency department is “too small and not fit for purpose” but that a new state-of-the-art emergency department will open in the first quarter of 2017.

The Minister for Health also said more single rooms were needed in hospitals.

“There’s a limited number of private rooms in our hospitals and priority goes first to patients who have infection control issues, people with cancer and CF who might get infection, then those who might infect others and then end-of-life patients.

“What we need is more single rooms and that’s why every new hospital is single room only, the new children’s hospital will be single rooms only, the new block in Limerick is single room only, there is a new emergency department now built in Limerick, it will open next year, it should have been built ages ago…

“We really are making these things happen but it’s going to take time,” he added.

In a poll conducted for Claire Byrne Live, 55pc of people said they would forgo tax cuts for greater investment in the health service. In the same poll, 34pc of respondents answered ‘no’ and 11pc answered ‘don’t know’.

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