Patients Left For Days On Trolleys Without Food

Dismissing the Government’s claims to have delivered a world-class health service Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, highlighted the experience of one of his own constituents in Mayo during a three day stay at the General Hospital in Castlebar.

In an email to Mr Kenny the woman described how she had spent most of the three days on a trolley or sitting on a chair in a corridor.

During leaders’ questions in the Dáil yesterday Mr Kenny read out an extract of the patient’s email.
She described how:

* She was not given a pillow and was forced to use a blood-stained blanket.

* Only the men’s toilet was working.

* A woman with pleurisy was on a trolley near the exit door to the casualty waiting area.

* At times “we could hear the wind whistling through”.

* There was nowhere to have a shower.

* The toilets were absolutely filthy.

Responding to the woman’s claims, Mr Kenny hit out at what he described as the Taoiseach’s “blinkered approach of favouring statistics over the honest testimony of real people”.

The FG leader also highlighted a number of other alleged shortcomings including:

— a GP in Kildare who says it took 35 weeks between a screening test and a hysterectomy and the system was effectively responsible for his patient’s death.

— women in Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda wait until the fifth month of pregnancy for their first appointment with an obstetrician.

— consultants in Tralee Hospital who say that because of the wait for endoscopy services there are people dying at the end of the waiting list.

In response, the Taoiseach defended the health system and maintained that it was indeed world class. “It is hard for Deputy Kenny to analyse the system on the basis of one letter and I could quote letters written by very satisfied people.

“The letter stated nobody was cleaning or looking after the toilets, food or anything. The deputy will be aware that there are several hundred staff in the hospital in question, employed at a cost of tens of million euro. Perhaps the day referred to was a bad day and the staff were elsewhere,” he said.

Mr Ahern went on to suggest Mr Kenny had a particular agenda in raising this issue. “I understand the agenda of the deputy, who has visited all the hospitals in question. We are tracking each other in that I have been to most of them also. I have heard the negative comments, but have also heard an endless number of positive ones.

“People who have been in for major cardiac surgery, heart and lung transplants, maternity care or other kinds of treatments, including people who believed they were on death’s door, have said they were treated well. It is true that I have encountered problems and seen old buildings that in my non-professional view are past their sell-by dates … that is why we are investing the resources,” he said.

Turning to the available statistics, he added: “There are 140,000 positions (in the health service). There has been a great increase in the number of doctors, and the number of consultants has doubled.”