Ninety four-year-old great grandmother spends two nights on hospital trolley

“Outrageous” is how the chairperson of the HSE West’s regional health forum has described the fact that a 94-year-old Connemara widow and great grandmother of 34 children had to spend two nights on a trolley at UHG’s A&E department.

The Clifden mother of seven arrived at the regional hospital’s emergency department on 2pm on Tuesday last and was eventually given a bed at 4pm on Thursday - 50 hours later, according to Cllr Padraig Conneely.

Slamming the west’s flagship hospital for the delay he says it is “still not capable of supplying quality care” for patients requiring beds after attending the ED.

His comments come as the latest “trolley watch” figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation reveals that there were 20 patients on trolleys at the emergency department on Sunday night and 36 on Tuesday.

The former mayor is highly critical of the “indignity” the grandmother of 32 experienced waiting to be admitted.

“Ms Betty Mullen from Sky Road, Kingstown, in Clifden had to endure the indignity of spending two night on a trolley despite her advanced age of 94 years. I will be requesting the newly appointed general manager of UHG Dr David O’Keeffe to stand over his public statement after his appointment (quote ‘to build a strong, cohesive service for our patients and the introduction of quality standards that put the patient, patient safety and clinical governance at the heart of everything we do.’ ).”

Dr O’Keeffe must now take a “hands-on” approach to iron out the “major difficulties” at UHG, insists the Fine Gael city councillor.

“The time for talking is over and he must show now by his actions that patients who attend the emergency department at UHG are given the quality public care they deserve. UHG has been under-performing as a major acute hospital for a number of years and the Minister for Health Mary Harney continues to ignore the serious problems encountered by patients when they present at the hospital.

“Patient focus must remain a priority at UHG and every effort must be made to ensure that patient needs are paramount.”

Meanwhile the Irish Hospital Consultants Association warns that reductions in hospital services are just weeks away.

Its president Dr Paul Oslizlok says about two to three weeks from now the public will begin to see further curtailments in critical parts of hospitals. This follows the recommendation by the HSE to the medical council that the number of doctor training posts in hospitals nationally be cut from 4,800 to 3,600 from July.

“Everybody knows that these qualified doctors who are training to be specialists carry out a very large part of the work of any hospital. With demand for services increasing such a radical reduction in a vital area of hospital staffing will have immediate and far reaching effects. The HSE has been fully aware for some time that these extraordinary recommendations will lead to the curtailment of acute services in many hospitals. Some accident and emergency and obstetrical services may have to close.

“Warning bells have been ringing, particularly in small to medium sized hospitals, as the sudden drop in the number of doctors is predicted to force closure or curtailment of some acute hospital services. The response of the HSE to this well flagged crisis has been disorganised and ineffective. The HSE must act quickly and decisively to protect the public from service deficiencies. In the longer term, the HSE must strike a better balance in fulfilling its statutory duty to provide quality medical training posts, while at the same time guaranteeing a safe level of medical manpower, at all levels.”


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