Man collapsed on street after hospital turned him away
Health Minister Simon Harris has come under pressure to order an investigation after a man collapsed on a busy street just hours after being turned away from a Dublin hospital.
The incident, involving one of Mr Harris's own constituents, was described as "deeply upsetting" by fellow Wicklow TD John Brady.
The man in question, who is in his 50s, presented himself at St Columcille's Hospital in Loughlinstown, south Dublin, with chest pains.
After pleading with staff to be seen by a doctor, the man was told that the hospital could not treat him because he did not have a referral letter from his GP.
After leaving the hospital, the man - who was in serious pain - walked across the footbridge in Loughlinstown and took a bus to his home town in Bray.
He later collapsed on the main street while he was en route to his GP.
The man suffered a suspected heart attack and was treated on the scene by passers-by before the emergency services arrived.
He was rushed to St James's Hospital where he has since undergone surgery.
Details of the case have been provided by the man's family to Mr Brady, a Sinn Féin TD.
The family have asked not to be identified at this time.
Mr Brady said both he and the family are now demanding an urgent investigation. "We are talking about a matter of life and death here," Mr Brady told the Irish Independent last night.
"I have sought a meeting with hospital management to establish what exactly are the protocols and procedures here. I am also calling on Health Minister Simon Harris to demand a full investigation by the HSE," he added.
St Columcille's Hospital was downgraded in November 2013 with a decision being made to shut down the emergency department entirely.
As a result, emergency cases are diverted to St Vincent's Hospital.
The hospital does, however, have a medical assessment unit (MAU) and an injuries unit (IU).
Mr Brady says this incident yesterday illustrates the "disastrous decision" to downgrade the hospital.
While the hospital would not comment on "individual cases", a spokeswoman said the medical assessment unit does not accept "walk-in patients".
"The medical assessment unit assesses patients referred by GP with acute medical conditions such as chest infection, urinary tract infection, collapse, deep vein thrombosis, anaemia without active bleeding, fever and headaches. The MAU is open seven days per week from 8am to 6pm. It accepts GP referrals and patient transfers from St Vincent's University Hospital. It does not accept 'walk in' patients," the spokeswoman said.
"The IU is open seven days per week from 8am to 6pm. It manages 'minor injuries' and governance of the unit is with the emergency department in St Vincent's University Hospital.
"The medical assessment unit and the injuries unit have seen a combined total of 12,778 attendances in 2016."