A call has been made for the Minister for Health to address the Dáil regarding a 74-year-old patient who was alleged to have "suffered terribly" while in the care of the west's flagship hospital.
The now deceased woman had a number of conditions, including osteoporosis, but was left on a trolley for 72 hours at University Hospital Galway last month. Towards the end of that period she was found lying on the floor of a corridor in terrible pain.
Dep Catherine Connolly said the facts of the situation, as highlighted in a letter of complaint to the hospital by a family member, were "shocking" and "deeply upsetting".
The local TD raised the "disturbing" experience with the Taoiseach in the Dáil on Tuesday. She said that despite the hospital's stated policy of not leaving patients on trolleys for more than 24 hours, this woman was left on one for 72 hours.
"Furthermore, towards the end of that period of time the patient was found on a corridor, screaming in pain. She was then taken to a bed and left without an X-ray and without pain relief. The family was never contacted at any point in relation to this fall, and never given an adequate explanation as to how the patient ended up being left on the floor screaming in pain.
'As a result of questions to the Minister for Health and to Saolta, it was established that there have been 13 independent external reviews of patient care at the hospital in a 10-year period at a cost of €246,883'
"In fact it took five hours and pressure from the family for an X-ray to eventually be carried out confirming that the patient had suffered a broken hip, a fracture that was more than obvious to the family when they arrived. The patient subsequently died following nine days in the care of the hospital."
Deputy Connolly said the family is "distraught" after the experience. She said she had no choice but to bring this matter to the Taoiseach’s attention because the hospital at "no point proactively contacted the family and/or confirmed to them that an investigation was under way".
The Independent TD claimed it was only as a result of a written complaint by the family on October 10, 15 days after their mother had died, that the complaints officer contacted the family.
"It emerged at that point that an investigation had been undertaken but no details were given as to when it started, who was carrying it out, and when it would be completed."
She said unfortunately this is not an isolated case. "In fact, as a result of numerous questions to the Minister for Health and to Saolta, I have established that there have been 13 independent external reviews of patient care at the hospital in a 10-year period at a cost of €246,883. That is more than one a year, and that figure excludes all of the other reviews into patient care that were not carried out externally."
Deputy Connolly stated she has asked the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to make an urgent and comprehensive statement to the Dáil regarding what happened to this woman who suffered "so terribly" while in the care of the regional hospital.