Tuesday 16 January 2018

'We weren't treated like patients' - woman (69) claims she was left on hard A&E chair for 23 hours

Rose Tobin (inset) said she felt 'like a ghost' after she spent 23 hours on a chair in Connolly Hospital. Image: RTE News
Rose Tobin (inset) said she felt 'like a ghost' after she spent 23 hours on a chair in Connolly Hospital. Image: RTE News

Kathy Armstrong

A woman (69) has claimed that she spent 23 hours on a chair in A&E recently and wasn't given a blanket, pillow or any privacy.

Rose Tobin, who is from Finglas in Dublin, called the situation "horrendous" as she alleged that hospital staff avoided her eyes and that she envied people who were on trolleys as her chair was so uncomfortable.

Rose was referred to Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, Dublin on Monday afternoon as she was suffering from an infection, she was vomiting and had not been able to eat in almost a week.

She made it past the waiting room and into the A&E department but says she was then left on a chair and did not see a doctor for 19 hours.

Speaking on Liveline on RTE Radio One, she said: "I keep hearing about trolleys but a trolley is not the worst place to be, believe me, I was sitting on a hard chair for 23 hours.

"I was very sick, I'm 69, there was a man sitting beside me for the same 23 hours and he is 85, it's unbelievable.

"I got called through but I got a chair, I didn't even see a doctor for 19 hours.

"The people who were on trolleys I envied, they were being looked after, they were patients.

"We weren't even being treated like patients, we were just ignored, I don't know what it was because of, nobody took my blood pressure of asked anything.

"I was coughing and throwing up into a cardboard bowl the whole time I was there, I wasn't even handed a blanket or pillow at nighttime, it was freezing cold.

Rose Tobin was sick with an infection when she was referred to Connolly Hospital on New Year's Day. Image: RTE News
Rose Tobin was sick with an infection when she was referred to Connolly Hospital on New Year's Day. Image: RTE News

"When you go through those doors you would think you'll get looked after but that was it."

She added that she felt she was ignored by staff in the overcrowded department.

"Every time I saw a doctors or nurse walk towards me holding a chart I was praying it was me but it wasn't.

"I don't blame the people because they are up against it, they have a horrendous job.

"They are walking along and they look down to avoid your eyes, they don't look at your eyes," Rose claimed.

She said that she has been on a trolley before and would prefer that to a chair.

She said: "I was on a trolley in 2004 when the trolley crisis started and I spent a night one one then but my God it was nothing like this.

"Imagine trying to sit on a chair with overhead lights beaming down on you, it was absolutely horrendous."

Rose continued to say: "I wasn't actually admitted to hospital after that but I was treated, they sent me for an x-ray and found out what wasn't wrong with me, they put me on a drip while I was in the chair.

"When that was done I was given a prescription and sent home - after 23 hours of sitting on a chair."

Read More: 'My father's last days were not dignified' - Grieving son criticises 'dire state' of emergency services

This comes as the Irish Nurses' and Midwives' Organisation revealed that more than 2,400 people spent time this week on a trolley or chair waiting for a hospital bed, a 10 per cent increase year-on-year.

The INMO said its staff counted 2,408 patients on trolleys from Monday to Friday.

The number is 221 higher than the first week of 2017 and is a record high, the union said.

INMO general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said talks with the Health Service Executive (HSE) on trying to ease the crisis overcrowding have been productive.

"We now have a clear focus on implementing patient flow measures," she said.

Following the talks the state's Emergency Department Taskforce will meet on Monday to set out immediate, medium and long-term practical approaches to the recurring problem of overcrowding.

The trolley crisis continued for several hospitals yesterday with 43 patients needing a bed in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin (Stock picture)
The trolley crisis continued for several hospitals yesterday with 43 patients needing a bed in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin (Stock picture)

The INMO had previously revealed a record number of admitted patients, 98,981, spent time on trolleys in hospitals during 2017.

The union said it wanted hospitals to be operating under the full capacity protocol and mandatory de-escalation policies in order to stop overcrowding spreading throughout hospitals and to reduce the risk of cross infection, poor patient outcomes and burnout amongst staff.

The INMO report on the first week in January was released alongside figures which showed hospital overcrowding had eased slightly by Friday, with fewer than 500 people waiting for a proper bed.

According to the latest morning headcounts in A&E units and corridors around hospitals, there were 483 patients on trolleys or in chairs queuing for space in a ward.

University Hospital Limerick had the worst record for the second day in a row, with 43 people waiting for a bed.

Others with high levels of overcrowding included St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny, with 34 people on trolleys, the Midlands Regional Hospital, Mullingar, which had 33, and Cork University Hospital, which had 31.

The INMO said its 8am headcount on Friday found 351 people on trolleys in A&E units and 132 waiting in corridors around wards.

The flu season will run for another fortnight before it is expected to peak.

Independent.ie has contact the HSE for a comment.

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