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Sunday 18 February 2018

Mum's A&E horror after daughter (7) had to share room with addict injecting herself

(Stock image)
(Stock image)
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A mother whose 7-year-old daughter had to share a room with a heroin addict in an A&E department says her daughter kept asking: "Why can she do her own injections, mammy?"

The horrified mother, who asked to remain anonymous, visited the Portiuncula University Hospital in Ballinasloe with her daughter who had a suspected appendicitis.

After arriving at the hospital shortly after 1pm, her daughter was admitted into a two-bed room around 4.30pm.

She says the other person she had to share with was a HIV positive heroin addict who was openly injecting herself in the room.

The woman claimed she was HIV positive and kept shouting abuse at staff and patients.

"There was only a thin curtain dividing both of them and the woman was shouting at us, accusing us of discriminating against her because she had HIV," she told

"I was actually in tears. She keeps asking me questions about it. She absorbs everything she sees and hears, you see".

The woman's daughter has significant health problems and is regularly in and out of hospital.

She suffers from mild scoliosis and Goldenhar Syndrome.

"This just isn't on. A little innocent girl should not have to go through that. How would this have been allowed to happen?

"The woman was threatening the nurses and shouting on the phone about shooting up and buying more gear. My daughter was terrified," she added.

While the woman accepted that overcrowding issues are affecting hospitals all over Ireland, she says there can be "no excuses" for what happened.

In a statement to, Portiuncula University Hospital said:

"There was a delay in transferring a child to the ward due to an emergency in the Paediatric Ward. The child was cared for in "minors area" in the Emergency Department, which is a two bedded area, as the paediatric room was occupied due to the volume of children attending the department.

"The nurse in charge apologised on the day to the child and the child's family for the distress they suffered. We are working with the staff in both paediatrics and the Emergency Department to ensure this does not occur again.

"Portiuncula University Hospital apologies for any distress caused."

This week it was revealed how around 90 beds were lying idle in hospitals across the country yesterday as the trolley crisis forced hundreds of patients to endure more gruelling delays in emergency departments.

Health Minister Simon Harris disclosed the number of closed beds - due to lack of staff - at the Oireachtas Health Committee, where he was tackled on the failures of the health service, including the suffering of patients on waiting lists.

He was speaking as 516 patients were on trolleys, including 45 in Cork University Hospital.

HSE chief Tony O'Brien said he acknowledged the "distress for patients and their families, and the impact on staff caused by overcrowded emergency departments".

Mr O'Brien also said that the number of delayed discharges - patients who no longer need hospital care but need suitable step-down care - had reduced from 619 to 436 over the winter.

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