NO CHANGE A group of protesters outside the entrance to MUH (then called Mayo General Hospital) during a demonstration against A&E overcrowding, which was held more than a decade ago. Cllr Michael Kilcoyne (pictured front, first left) described Friday’s ambulance debacle as ‘a scandal’. Pic: Michael Donnelly
Up to ten ambulances were parked with patients onboard waiting to get into the Emergency Department of Mayo University Hospital (MUH) in Castlebar on Friday last.
It’s the latest story of woe at the accident and emergency department after last week’s Mayo News reported that twice the number of patients the department was designed for went through its doors in 2016.
Speaking about the figures, Cllr Michael Kilcoyne described Friday’s chaos as ‘a scandal’.
“Some patients were waiting up to two and a half hours in an ambulance,” he told The Mayo News. “There were only three nurses on in A&E. Supposing a major accident happened in Mayo on Friday, what would happen? All the ambulances were parked up with patients outside the hospital.
“It underlines how overcrowded and understaffed the accident and emergency department at Mayo University Hospital is. It is not fit for purpose and this proves the problems raised in The Mayo News story last week, where a representative from the hospital confirmed that twice what the A&E is capable of treating in a year went through the department in 2016,” he added.
Responding to questions from The Mayo News, a spokesperson for the Saolta University Health Care Group (formerly West/North West Hospitals Group) confirmed the delays last Friday, and also on Thursday.
“The Emergency Department (ED) at MUH has been extremely busy over the last week, Thursday and Friday were particularly so with critically ill patients presenting with life threatening conditions. These patients took priority over the other patients resulting in excessively long delays. There were a number of ambulances awaiting handover between 3pm and 7.30 pm on both days,” they stated.
“This situation is due to a combination of issues including limited space in the ED combined with high numbers of patients attending the ED with high levels of acuity. There is a challenge in getting extra specialist ED nursing to respond to these peaks in the department. There were also patients in the ED waiting admission to inpatient beds; this also causes extra pressure in the department,” said the Saolta spokesperson.
Capital investment needed
Cllr Kilcoyne called for capital investment to increase the size of the Accident and Emergency Department.
Saolta say there is currently an ‘intermediate’ proposal for a prefabricated building which would serve as a temporary extension to the Emergency Department ‘until there is a significant capital commitment for a new ED which is the long term ambition’.
They also said that hospital management have submitted a proposal nationally for extra capacity incorporating an Acute Medical Assessment Unit ‘which would take a large portion of medical patients out of the ED and it would also free up eight medical beds to help with the inpatient capacity challenges’.
Saolta also said that there are safety meetings twice daily, at 11am and 3pm ‘so we are aware of the pressure areas and try and support the ED in any way we can, but there are times when our patients do have to wait far too long to be seen and we regret that’.
Also this week Senator Rose Conway-Walsh (Sinn Féin) raised in the Seanad about the under-staffing at the A&E in Mayo University Hospital.
“As I understand it, Mayo A&E is now often operating with five less nurses than this time last year. This is an impossible situation,” she said.
Yesterday (Monday) saw 34 patients waiting on trolleys at the Emergency Department of Mayo University Hospital, according to the latest trolley watch from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.