Tuesday 22 May 2018

Trolley crisis: ‘Patients on trolleys in corridors were facing into the wall, weeping’

Sheelagh Conway outside University Hospital Galway yesterday. Photo: Andrew Downes
Sheelagh Conway outside University Hospital Galway yesterday. Photo: Andrew Downes

As told to Eilish O'Regan

The trolley crisis in our hospitals is continuing to leave vulnerable patients waiting many hours or days for a bed. Despite efforts to relieve overcrowding, there were 448 patients on trolleys yesterday morning across the country, 49 of them in University Hospital Galway. Sheelagh Conway, from Loughrea, reveals the chaotic scenes as she cared for a sick relative. Four years ago, she tended to her elderly mother in the same department and was devastated to find that conditions have got worse since...

My relative was brought to the emergency department of University Hospital Galway at 4pm on Tuesday evening. By last night, I still didn't know when she would get a bed.

The scenes I have witnessed were unacceptable. Trolleys were everywhere, along both sides of the corridors. I have seen people on these trolleys facing into the wall in tears.

There were two people weeping. They were in pain and anguish. Some were suffering the indignity of being examined in public.

When I came in on Tuesday night, there were not even enough chairs. There were six very sick people standing along the corridor of the emergency department.

One person vomited all over the floor. Spills of coffee or tea were also on the floor.

This was extremely dangerous - so many people were there, somebody could have fallen and broken a bone, or worse.

There was a space of about six inches between people moving up and down past the trolleys.

The doctors and nurses had to go sideways to make their way,

We are talking about people carrying substances, crashing into each other and spilling things. Sick people were bumping into sick people.

When doctors were treating patients, there were not enough cubicles. Treating patients on the corridors was an appalling breach of confidentiality.

Everybody could hear what the patient was saying. It was shocking.

The outcome of it all was that people were stripped of their dignity.

The smell of vomit filled the whole emergency department.

There were very, very ill people on trolleys. I have been in Third World countries. I have never seen anything like this.

When I phoned the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar's office, I spoke to an official and I relayed what I saw. I was told my relative was officially admitted but the nurse told me there may be no bed for days.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said it apologised to patients and it had cancelled the admission of patients on waiting lists for non-urgent surgery in a bid to free up beds.

Irish Independent

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