'Something drastic needs to be done - they should reopen another hospital,' says mum treated on chair
A mother with Crohn's disease, and suffering from abscesses, was being treated on a chair in the emergency department of University Hospital Limerick (UHL), where a record 92 patients languished on trolleys.
Rachel Hillyard initially presented at the ED on Saturday but decided to go home after she was told there was a nine-hour wait to see a doctor.
She returned to the ED at 10am yesterday and, after being triaged and seen by a doctor within an hour, she was five hours waiting on a chair in the cramped and noisy ED to see a surgical doctor.
"I'm sitting on a chair, it's not very comfortable. To be honest with you, there's actually a lot of people sitting on chairs, they seem to have got rid of the trolleys and have put chairs in.
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"Sitting on a chair is not the best for me," she said, adding that she had no cushion and was suffering "uncomfortable and very painful" abscesses.
With a line of trolleys next to her in the ED, she said: "Something drastic needs to be done.
"There are a lot of doctors coming in, but there are a lot of patients coming in as well. It's frustrating for both the patients and for the staff.
"The staff are run off their feet, doing everything they can with the little resources they have, but it's not doing any good.
"I just don't know what the solution is. Maybe reopen another hospital, at this stage, if it's possible."
In 2009, the then Fianna Fáil-Green coalition signed off on reconfiguring 24-hour emergency care out of Tipperary and Clare to UHL.
The Limerick hospital opened a new ED costing €24m two years ago, but overcrowding has continued.
"They have tried everything here, they've built a new building and it's not working.
"In my opinion, it needs a new hospital," Ms Hillyard added.
The hospital said it could not comment on individual cases, but encouraged the patient to engage with its complaints process.
Despite the ordeal for many, some patients were very satisfied with their ED experience at UHL.
One woman, who did not wish to be named, said that within 15 minutes of presenting at the hospital with her husband he had been triaged, admitted on a trolley, and given a sandwich and bowl of soup. "We're in awe of it," she said.