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Patients find parking is the biggest pain in list of hospital gripes

LONG A&E queues, complaints about cleanliness and bed shortages are the type of complaints we often hear about hospitals.

But one busy Dublin hospital has revealed that the majority of complaints it has received in the past 18 months relate to car parking.

Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown received 46 complaints in 2009 and 74 for 2010. However, the breakdown of the nature of complaints show the majority of the queries were about car parking facilities there.

Overall, hospitals in the capital refused to reveal details of complaints made about their facilities over the past year.

Some Dublin hospitals, queried under the Freedom of Information Act, have provided a final total of the complaints which were lodged by the public over the physical conditions of the wards and environs of the hospital.

However, none have outlined the exact nature of the complaints to the Herald.

Each of the hospitals concerned provided the basic figures but said that they could supply additional details about the complaints, stating that the records concerned contained information given "in confidence on the understanding that it would be treated as confidential".

The officers at the hospitals said that there was a potential that this information could identify individuals or cases.

However, similar reports into complaints about childcare facilities have been released to the public, with key confidential information blackened out.

Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin reported 13 complaints in 2009 but just six so far this year while the Mater Hospital had nine last year and 5 in 2010.

Criticised

St Vincent's University Hospital racked up a total of 28 complaints over the two years, Beaumont Hospital had 17 and the Rotunda recorded just seven.

St Michael's Hospital, Dun Laoghaire, said that following a search, there were no such complaints on record for the period concerned. Previously, the Health Service Executive was criticised for suppressing the reports of kitchen inspections throughout the country.

The HSE refused a request from this paper for disclosure of hospital kitchen and canteen inspection reports under the Freedom of Information Act.

Representatives said that the decision to deny access to the information was made because the information was covered by "professional secrecy".

But, Dr James Reilly, Fine Gael health spokesman, said that the HSE should stand over all reports and make them public.

clairemurphy@herald.ie


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