NEW mums are being forced to endure "desperate" conditions in one of our top hospitals - including sleeping on floors, it emerged today.
In some cases, mothers who have undergone C-sections are left lying on cold floors as they care for their sick children throughout the night.
Dr Orla Franklin (pictured), paediatric consultant at Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin, today described the conditions as "desperate".
"I know of mums who have had sections on a Thursday and find themselves sleeping on the floor by the Saturday," she told the Herald.
"They need to be there and they are struggling to lift themselves off the floor in the middle of the night to breastfeed their babies."
Mothers of infants undergoing heart operations at the hospital are forced to endure up to three weeks sleeping on the floor beside their sick newborns.
"The rooms are terribly small they can just about accommodate a cot and a sink. Some will have a chair next to the bed, the lucky ones get chairs that can convert into a small bed but plenty of others are just left with nothing.
"Parents are desperate to be there and often mums need to be there to feed their baby at 2am. I know of mums who have had sections on Thursday and find themselves sleeping on the floor by the Saturday."
Crumlin hospital has launched a campaign to raise €8m for its cancer and cardiology wards, but its efforts were effectively dismissed by Health Minister James Reilly.
He said yesterday: "I know that Crumlin made their decision to go for funding in the cardiac area in January, before the decision on the paediatric hospital was made. That's a matter for Crumlin.
"My concern is to get (the new) children's hospital built as quickly as possible so that our children get the best care, in the best environment."
However, Dr Franklin said that parents were often left "aghast" at the conditions in the hospital. "These are among the sickest children in Our Lady's Hospital, a hospital that deals with the sickest children in the country.
"There is a reason why our biggest donors are parents who have used the programme.
"The minimum cardio surgery would see the patients stay for two to three weeks. People might be able to relate to a night or two on a hospital floor but multiply that by 10 or 20.
"Parents are desperate to stay with their children and stay positive in what is the darkest time of their lives and they are faced with these conditions," she explained.
Dr Franklin explained that funding for the hospital had been secured in 2008 but never materialised.
"We have told people we've gone through the formal lines with the HSE and spoke to the previous administration. The funding was secured. It was agreed and then in 2008 it disappeared. I don't know where it went but I can't imagine it went on anything as important as the work we do here.
"We have a superb outcome and we deliver a world class service for people but we're doing it against the odds and against the conditions we face."
Dr Franklin added that the cardio ward was not the only ward where young patients were facing unconscionable conditions. Patients in the cancer ward are also facing unacceptable pressure, she said.
Currently, the children's cancer ward -- St John's -- has no private rooms for the most critical or terminally ill children and no private bathroom for patients or their families.
"It's desperate. I feel for them.
"People know about the vomiting but don't think about the diarrhoea. They need privacy, to be able to use the bathroom without a queue outside the door," she said.
The medical and research foundation of Crumlin Children's Hospital needs €8m in funding to help renovate its cancer ward and to build a new cardiac facility.
The campaign can be contacted via the lo-call number 1890 507 508, the website www.fixcrumlin.ie or mobile phone users may text 'Crumlin' to 51000.