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‘No country for old people’


84-year-old woman on MUH trolley for nearly 48 hours

Oisín McGovern

AN 84-YEAR-OLD woman spent almost 48 hours on a trolley in Mayo University Hospital’s Accident and Emergency department after suffering a stroke.
The woman, who had suffered a stroke a number of years previously, was admitted by ambulance to MUH last Tuesday evening but wasn’t provided with a bed until 5pm on Thursday.
Her son, who did not wish to be named, told The Mayo News yesterday (Monday) that there was ‘pandemonium’ in the hospital’s A&E department while his mother waited for a bed.
The woman – who has limited mobility resulting from her previous stroke – was ‘very distressed’ and got little sleep while she waiting.

‘Perished with the cold’
“I’ve never seen a politician sitting on a trolley for 48 hours. It doesn’t happen and it never will happen,” her son said. “It’s a regular thing. Our health service is just chronic.”
After being admitted to A&E, the woman was visited by her daughter on Wednesday evening.
She told The Mayo News that her mother was ‘perished with the cold’ and was being called the incorrect name by hospital staff.
Her family were concerned that she was being mistaken for another patient and was at risk of being given the wrong medication.
“They never looked at her wrist to see what her name was, there was no name up over the bed, nothing. That’s awful bad. It was so distressing,” said her daughter, who also wished to remain anonymous.
The woman is currently in a stable condition and is being treated by a team of stroke specialists.

Terrible conditions
Fifteen people were left waiting on trolleys in MUH on Tuesday, February 15, according to figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO). Ten people were left waiting for a bed on February 16 while eight people were left waiting on February 17.
Commenting on the incident, local councillor Michael Kilcoyne described conditions in the hospital as ‘terrible’.
“I have never had so many complaints from people about the way elderly people are being treated. I have come to the conclusion that this is no country for old people,” he told The Mayo News.
Cllr Kilcoyne called on Mayo TDs to table a motion to the Dáil to demand better facilities for MUH.
Last year, €18.4 million was pledged for the construction of an extension to the existing A&E.
Cllr Kilcoyne, who is a member of the HSE Regional Forum, said visiting restrictions had led to a deterioration in the standard of hospital care, adding that the new A&E would not come for another ‘three or four years’.
“Plans aren’t even drawn for it yet, planning permission isn’t even applied for… anyone can end up there, so this is what it’s going to be like for the next three or four years, whether you’re young or old, able-bodied or have a disability. Surely to God people are entitled to a much better service in a much shorter time,” the Independent councillor said.

In a response issued to The Mayo News, Saolta hospital group apologised for the distress and inconvenience’ caused to patients left waiting on trolleys.
Saolta said that MUH was currently experiencing ‘high volumes’ of presentations to the A&E department.
“Mayo University Hospital regrets that any patient, particularly the elderly, or patients with complex needs, should have to wait for admission to a hospital ward,” read the statement.
“We have specific staff assigned to care for patients who are in the [Emergency Department]  awaiting a hospital bed on a ward; the patients continue to receive care from these staff until they can safely transfer to the appropriate hospital ward for their on-going care. We make every effort to admit patients to an appropriate ward as quickly as we can.
 “If patients or families have any concerns in relation to patient care they can contact the hospital directly to discuss further and it will be given immediate attention.”