Thursday 18 October 2018

'Mum was dying and she had no dignity' - pensioner (76) left on A&E trolley for almost 25 hours

Marry Murray passed away at Beaumont Hospital in July 2015
Marry Murray passed away at Beaumont Hospital in July 2015
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

An elderly woman who was told she was dying was left on a hospital trolley in an overcrowded A&E for almost 25 hours, her devastated daughter has said.

Mary Murray's family said they were upset that their mother didn't get to enjoy privacy during her final hours and they feel she was stripped off her dignity.

Mary (76) was seriously ill for a long time and for the last seven years of her life she was cared for by her six children, until her death at Beaumont Hospital in July 2015.

Her daughter Courina Breen told she is speaking for the first time in response to the ongoing trolley crisis.

"She was admitted to Beaumont just after midnight on July 8 2015, my sister was with her and almost immediately they were told that she wouldn't make it," Courina said.

"Mum had several complicated problems - including kidney failure, she couldn't breathe, epilepsy, diabetes, blood clots and her mobility was really bad.

"They said she wouldn't make it and she was put on a trolley almost straight away but staff said that they would try to get a bed for her."

After a few hours Mary was offered a bed in the Intensive Care unit but her family were told if she went there she would have to be resuscitated if she stopped breathing. Her family wasn't in favour of this as she was so frail they wanted her to have a "peaceful death."

Hospital staff said that her family could bring her home but they warned she may die en route.

Courina, who lives in Balbriggan, Dublin, said: "We just wanted a quiet place for her.

Mary Murray has been remembered as 'a mighty woman with a great sense of humour'
Mary Murray has been remembered as 'a mighty woman with a great sense of humour'

"Beaumont A&E is a crazy place - there's people sleeping everywhere, trolleys wherever they can fit them, people waiting for hours on chairs and even falling asleep against walls.

"She was next to the nurses' station, the high-dependency area but it's a busy area and there are people all around you shouting.

"There were people walking past, it was so noisy that she couldn't get any sleep, there was a man lying in the trolley next to her and he kept roaring, every time he roared she would grab my brother's hand, looking terrified.

"She was dying and there was no dignity for her, we were all so upset and crying but there was no privacy for us - it was just completely unsuitable.

"It must have been awful for other patients around her too to have to see this."

Read More: Man (65) who broke arm in two places left on trolley overnight after ten hour A&E wait

Mary, who was originally from Coolock, remained on the trolley for over a day until she was finally moved to a quieter area in the A&E.

Courina said: "We asked about the bed and they kept saying they were working on it, eventually around 1am the next day - so over 24 hours later - she was given a bed on a little ward to the side of the A&E, which are usually given to people who are dying or need to be in isolation.

"About an hour and a half after that her condition got really bad and they had a bed on St Paul's ward, when she went in there she calmed right down.

"It was really peaceful after that, it was darker and she was calm in herself, she was there for about an hour before she died.

"When she died I didn't mind, it was the most amazing feeling to see her looking so light, you could almost feel her energy."

Courina is keen to stress that she doesn't think that the frontline staff are to blame for the overcrowding in the A&E.

She said: "It's our local hospital and I wouldn't want to give out about them because I think it's a problem with how the health system is run overall.

"The doctors, nurses and other staff we have met in Beaumont were amazing, they're so kind.

"They work such long hours under such stressful conditions but the staff are such professionals and the nurses in particular are absolute angels.

"But it is like  a cattle mart in there because it's so busy, I remember another night when I was waiting in there with her and she had to sit on a hard chair all night, I gave her my jacket to use as a pillow because they didn't even have one for her."

Read More: 'Your heart hopes tomorrow will be better but your head knows it will be crazy' - Irish nurse on reaching burnout point

She continued to say: "I'm not angry about her death, she was so sick and I knew she had to die, it's just the circumstances and that she didn't get to have a peaceful death, it gets to you.

"She was a mighty woman with a great sense of humour, she was so powerful and strong and we just wanted her to have a soft, warm bed and a bit of privacy."

Courina has said that she thinks more could be done to try and tackle the problems within our health system.

She said: "I think maybe we could restructure our hospitals and have smaller ones, to take the pressure of the bigger ones.

"There's also problems with home care for older people and waiting lists for nursing home places, it seems there's also less people willing to look after their parents and grandparents so then older people are being forced to stay  in hospital instead of going home.

"It seems like we just don't have enough resources in place to care for everyone.

"You would be afraid to get sick because I'm afraid of what it'll be like."

A HSE spokeswoman who represents Beaumont Hospital said they cannot comment on individual cases.

She did clarify that resuscitation is based on someone's condition and not on their location within the hospital.

If you have any stories about the ongoing trolley crisis, please get in touch at

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