In a recent blog posted on the Cork University Hospital (CUH) website, the CEO, Tony McNamara, suggests the INMO's figures of patients on trolleys are misleading and calls for a more "honest debate" on the issue. Mr McNamara says: "Many patients are appropriately on trolleys in assessment units in our hospitals awaiting a decision as to whether they need to be admitted or not."
In mid-November 2016, I was transferred by ambulance to the CUH, because my GP didn't want to take a risk that I might be having a heart attack, while at the same time I was losing the sight in my right eye. It appeared I was having a panic attack but as the symptoms of both are the same, no chances were taken.
Upon arrival, I was taken in by wheelchair and having had an ECG test, I was left to wait for 11 hours in the waiting area sitting in the wheelchair while my eyesight became worse. When I tried to get someone's attention to inform them of my concern with my eyesight, I was simply told to wait in turn.
When the 11 hours had passed, I was brought back in to give blood samples and then had to wait a further two hours before being finally called in to see a doctor. The doctor informed me that my chest was fine, but when I mentioned my eyesight, the doctor didn't know what to say.
I then asked had they even checked my file, as I was a patient of CUH. The doctor looked at the computer and their response was "that they had messed up". I was told I would have to stay on a trolley until I could be seen the next day by neurology. I had attended the emergency department three times in the previous two weeks and the initial suspicion was that I might have MS.
On the night I waited in the wheelchair, I saw elderly people forced to wait on trolleys and yet many of the doctors were just standing about having conversations.
I observed one young couple with a child who had a slight cut on his forehead. The child needed a stitch but the primary-care facility that sent them to the emergency department informed them they were not qualified to do a simple stitch procedure.
Mr McNamara is completely out of touch with the realities of the emergency department and having spoken to many nurses and care assistants, I found they were frustrated at the inability of management to make the necessary decisions to actually care for the ill.
It is worth noting also that while CUH is considered a 24-hour hospital, anyone presenting with a suspected stroke or a neurological disorder after 5pm on Friday will not be seen by a specialised consultant until Monday morning at the earliest.
No patient deserves to be left on a trolley at any time and the dignity and respect of a patient must be paramount at all times. There is none in surrounding a trolley with a mobile screen to allow a family to be with a dying loved one, something I also observed.
Something has to change - NOW.
Cobh, Co Cork