Terminally ill patient left on stretcher at crowded hospital
A TERMINALLY ill man was among the patients forced to wait on an ambulance stretcher due to overcrowding in one of the country's main hospitals yesterday.
At one stage, six emergency ambulances were backed up outside Dublin's Mater Hospital because all of its own trolleys and beds were occupied.
The ambulances, which were held for about two hours, were unable to leave because the trolleys bearing the ill patients could not be released.
One of the patients is understood to have been a cancer patient who was made comfortable by ambulance and hospital staff.
The ambulances were unavailable to other 999 callers while they were held up outside the hospital.
A spokesman for the hospital said it had been an exceptionally busy day for the emergency department and by 4pm, three ambulances were still held up with eight patients waiting for a bed.
The crisis comes in the wake of severe overcrowding in Limerick Regional Hospital last week which led to patients having their operations cancelled, in order to free up beds.
There were 288 patients on trolleys in hospitals across the country yesterday morning, with Cork University Hospital the worst hit as it struggled with 37 patients needing a bed.
Other hospitals under pressure were St Vincent's and Beaumont hospitals in Dublin , while Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda was also hit.
The overcrowding comes despite claims by the Special Delivery Unit of the Department of Health that trolley waits and overcrowding are easing.
The latest Health Service Executive report for January showed the top performing hospitals were Letterkenny, Kerry, Portiuncula, St John's Limerick and St Luke's Kilkenny.
The hospitals which faced the greatest challenge in reaching the six-hour target for patients were Tallaght, the Mater and St James's Hospital.