Man who slept on trolley gets bill for bed

A man who spent four nights on a trolley at UHG got the shock of his life when he received a €300 bill for a bed in which he had not slept.

The former patient, who is in his early fifties, was admitted to the west’s biggest hospital suffering from viral pneumonia and allied infections. Due to the overcrowding problem he was unable to secure a bed and had to spend four nights on a trolley - two in the emergency department and the remainder in St Mary’s ward.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, described his experience in the overburdened ED as “horrendous” because he said he was without sleep and hot food for more than two days. He said the conditions were better in St Mary’s ward because “there at least I got hot food and there was less noise than the drunken frenzy I experienced in the emergency department” at the weekend.

The man, who is aged 53, found it particularly difficult lying on a trolley because he was in pain following a lumbar puncture. “A bed would have at least been a bit more comfortable,” he said.

He stated he fully sympathised with the nurses and medical staff who tried to secure a bed for him each day, all to no avail. Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, who highlighted his case, says the man was “outraged” when he received the bill from the hospital.

“He spent 96 hours on a trolley and then to add insult to injury he got a bill for €300 for a bed, something he never had the luxury of having while in GUH. To say the least he is outraged. Sending a €300 bill for a bed in this case seems callous and should be revisited. Clearly the same privacy and comfort is not accorded to someone on a trolley as in a bed.”

Senator Healy Eames is calling on Health Minister Leo Varadkar to “open his ears” to “human impact” stories like this which reflect the gravity of the overcrowding situation at the regional hospital. “I am not impressed that he tries to make a virtue out of the fact that he doesn’t wish to get involved in individual hospital cases. This hands-off approach doesn’t take cognisance of the quality of health delivery.”

The Minister informed the Oranmore senator in the Seanad recently that he is seeking capital funding to expand and improve Galway’s ED. “In the meantime he must ensure, as Minister for Health, that the human right to health and quality of care is protected.”

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