Wed, Feb
1 New Articles

A&E ’disgrace’

Government blamed for A&E ‘disgrace’

Áine Ryan

A 23-year old Foxford woman, who spent four days on trolleys and chairs in Mayo General Hospital last week, has said she will never vote for a Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrats government. In an exclusive interview with The Mayo News the young childcare worker, who declined to be identified, said she was ‘disgusted’ by conditions in the Castlebar hospital and that ‘the system is a disgrace’. “No way would I vote this Government back in,” she said.
Ironically the woman, who was diagnosed with ‘probable pneumonia’ and later pleurisy, had been recently involved in fundraising for an Eastern European orphanage but claimed that, after her dreadful ordeal, she should have been raising money for the HSE.
“When I asked for a second pillow, because I had severe back pain, I was told I was lucky I had one. Then, as soon as my boyfriend brought me in some pillows from home, the hospital pillow was immediately swiped from under me,” said the woman.
During the young woman’s ordeal – which started at 4.30am on Sunday, February 25 and ended at 11.30am on Wednesday, February 28 – she was hauled, along with her luggage, from trolleys to chairs on numerous occasions, forced to use the men’s toilet facilities, discharged for a number of hours, served only cold food, either salad or sandwiches, and had little sleep.
“I was very upset and I was crying. There was absolutely no privacy, men and women left together. I was really afraid some of the elderly people would fall off the trolleys, they are so narrow,” she said.
She told The Mayo News about a Polish patient whose lack of English compounded his distress.
“It was on the Monday night. I had spent the day on the corridor beside double doors leading to the ambulance entrance. It was very draughty and cold. I was with two other women, one with double pneumonia and the other with abdominal pains. The [Polish] man was very confused and wandering up and down the corridors in his underwear, going in and out of the ladies’ toilets. The nurses were great and doing their best. Eventually his friends were called in to placate him,” she said 
At around 2.30am on Tuesday (February 27) she was moved off the corridor into a day treatment room, but like the previous morning was removed back four hours later,  at 6.30am, to allow for the arrival of day patients. Five hours later, she was asked to vacate her trolley.
“A senior management person came along and kicked us off our trolleys, back on to chairs on the corridor,  saying they were needed for  trauma patents. They nearly took my pillows along with them and didn’t even give me a blanket, ” she continued.
At that stage, the woman called her sister and asked her to come in with warmer pyjamas and wooly bed-socks. She was very cold. Again she was offered a choice of salad or a sandwich for lunch, and was left on the chair until 8.30pm.
“Imagine, I was over the moon to get my trolley back,” she said, adding she had now been in the hospital for over two days and had not been offered any shower facilities.
An hour later she was removed by a porter to the medical assessment unit, part of the day care centre.
“It seemed like a five-star hotel. There were televisions, and cubicles and shower facilities. There were about eight elderly men there already on trolleys,” she recalled from her home near Foxford this week.
Soon afterwards, while being brought to a more private shower, down the corridor, the patient noticed an empty ward with six beds, three of which were already made up.
”Oh! my God,”she asked an accompanying nurse, “why don’t they put the elderly men and women in here at night?”
The nurse allegedly replied: “I have begged them to let us use those beds at night and we would dress them again in the mornings for the day patients. But they say they need them from 6am.”
On Monday morning last The Mayo News requested to speak to the Mayo General Hospital Manager, Mr Tony Canavan, regarding the ongoing crisis but was instead provided with a written statement through the HSE Press Office.
It stated that ‘the situation in A&E has shown a significant improvement over this time last year’. It referred to to the extra capacity in the recently-opened temporary adult ward, with accommodation for 13 extra patients.
“Mayo General Hospital took the decision from a health and safety perspective (including food safety), that it is not appropriate to serve hot food in the A&E department,” the statement said.
Last week Independent TD, Dr. Jerry Cowley, called on the Health and Safety Authority to act urgently on the serious hazards existing for patients and staff at Mayo General Hospital. He was expelled from the Dáil a fortnight ago for bringing up the plight of 27 patients on trolleys in the hospital.