Mayo cancer patients are being treated like second class citizens at University Hospital Galway’s centre of excellence according to a local deputy.
Ballina Fine Gael deputy Michelle Mulherin has raised the issue claiming that beds at the Galway hospital’s centre of excellence are being allocated to patients on trolleys in the emergency department and not to cancer patients as set out in the National Cancer Care Strategy.
The situation came to light when Dep Mulherin made representations to UHG to try to secure a bed for a Mayo cancer patient who first had surgery cancelled over three weeks ago and is still waiting owning to there being no bed available, despite the availability of the surgeon.
According to the deputy it was confirmed to her by the hospital that at that time available beds were for the considerable number of patients on trolleys.
Commenting on the situation Dep Mulherin said: “I have to say this is absolutely outrageous and in effect means that beds are being allocated on the basis of geography and not clinical need. There is no evidence that the medical condition of these seriously ill cancer patients is being taken into account when allocating beds.
“I am also informed that at any given time there are between 10 and 12 cancer patients in Mayo General awaiting transfer to Galway for specialist treatment and are delayed because of lack of availability of beds. The care of Mayo cancer patients is in effect being sacrificed for the sake of keeping trolley statistics down for Galway.
“In fact on the very day the patient I am assisting was due to take up the most recent re-scheduled appointment for surgery, trolley numbers at UHG went from 23 in the morning to 13 at lunchtime, indicating that beds became available yet there was no bed for a Mayo cancer patient who is still awaiting surgery.”
Dep Mulherin described the situation as “shocking”, saying hospital beds should not be managed in this way and that it “totally rubbishes” the idea that Mayo patients can avail of the best treatment at the centre of excellence.
“It would seem the only way a Mayo cancer patient can get a bed is to present at the UHG emergency department and wait on a trolley for hours, which cannot be right for someone so weak and sick. I am aware of the excellent treatment at UHG however it is a pre-requisite that a patient needs to be able to get into the hospital,” she added.
The deputy has contacted the Minister for Health about the situation in general and the individual case and has requested that the practice of how beds are allocated in UHG be challenged immediately by him “so Mayo cancer patients are no longer treated as second class citizens”.
“It is not acceptable. HSE West is responsible for ensuring that Mayo cancer patients receive the equitable care and treatment they are entitled to in accordance with the National Cancer Strategy and must be called to account for this state of affairs,” she concluded.