Sunday 19 May 2019

'I can't cope' - Woman (84) and man (68) among those languishing on trolleys and seats in Dublin hospital

Two elderly men lying on trolleys in the A&E department of Tallaght Hospital
Two elderly men lying on trolleys in the A&E department of Tallaght Hospital
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

An 84-year-old woman has been languishing on a trolley for over 24 hours in one of Dublin’s busiest hospitals.

The elderly woman is one of 15 patients who have been waiting for a bed at Tallaght Hospital today.

Six patients have been without a bed for over 24 hours, while four people aged in their 70s have been forced to wait on a trolley. spoke to a number of patients who have been waiting in the A&E department since early Monday.

One man (68), who had a major heart operation five years ago and presented himself with chest pains, had to sleep on the chairs in the sub-waiting area as there wasn’t a trolley or bed available.

"They only allow you on the bed for a few minutes when you’re getting your blood taken, and then you’ve to go out and sit in the waiting area because there are no beds to stay on. I’ve been here 16 hours now and I’ve only had bloods done and an ECG taken," he said.

"The staff are fantastic. It’s the system and the government letting them down. I mean, I’m 68, I can’t cope with this."

Another woman, who did not want to be named, had been waiting in the A&E department since 1.30pm on Monday after suffering a head and shoulder injury.

Her arm was in a sling and she could barely talk as she was suffering from a pounding headache.

"I had to sleep on the seats, I couldn’t even get a trolley. I didn’t come in with a cold either and now I have one. It’s terrible," she said.

Another 55-year-old woman who suffers from gastroparesis had been in A&E since 2pm on Monday.

Because of her condition, she has to see a specific consultant. Gastroparesis stops the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine and she has a tube in her stomach, making the hospital trolley even more uncomfortable.

Staff taking blood pressure in the sub-waiting area
Staff taking blood pressure in the sub-waiting area

"She has been in a lot of pain over the last two days," her daughter said.

"The staff have been fantastic, it’s not their fault. I think at this stage we’re just getting used to it and accept that this is how it is.

"I’ve to leave to go to work now. I don’t think it’s going to be anytime soon before she’s off the trolley, but fingers crossed."

Dr Jim Gray, consultant in emergency medicine at Tallaght Hospital,  described the conditions as "State institutional abuse."

"The situation is as bad as it has ever been. This is ongoing; day in, day out. It is an all round yearly problem. This is State institutional abuse because it is being overseen by the government, by the agencies, by the HSE, by the Department of Health and society," he told Today with Sean O'Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1.

"Why are we are tolerating this... I can’t understand why people aren’t out on the streets in their droves protesting over this scandal that is allowed to continue.”

Hospitals continued to run out of beds on Tuesday as A&Es saw little reprieve with 575 patients on trolleys across the country, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

The worst hit hospitals included Cork University Hospital which had 46 patients waiting for a bed, while Letterkenny General Hospital had another 44 patients on trolleys.

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