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‘Inhumane’ overcrowding conditions at UHG

Wednesday, 11th January, 2017 1:01am

Conditions at University Hospital Galway (UHG) have been described as “inhumane” by a local Galway woman who witnessed the overcrowding crisis first hand.

Mary Corbett-Joyce accompanied her 93-year-old father John Corbett to UHG last Tuesday when he was brought by ambulance from Clifden with a septic foot.

Ms Corbett-Joyce said she was “stunned” by the overcrowding upon arrival at the city hospital.

“It was a sight I will never forget.”

When they arrived, Ms Corbett-Joyce said they “couldn’t get inside the door” as the Emergency Department was inundated with trolleys.

“It was so stressful for both the patients and the nurses and the doctors and the medical team as well. You have to feel for the pressure they were under.

“You could see them running with the perspiration coming down their faces. It’s just horrific.”

Ms Corbett-Joyce’s father was forced to wait on a trolley in a hospital corridor from 7pm last Tuesday night until 2.30am when he was brought into the ED. He finally saw a doctor at 8.20am the following morning.

“I was very anxious for my Dad because, by now, 15 hours had passed without my Dad having had an antibiotic.

“It was 8.20am before a doctor or anyone looked at his foot. I thought I might lose him to blood poisoning,” she said.

National trolley figures reached record highs last week with 612 patients on trolleys in hospitals across the country on Tuesday, 40 of which were in UHG with a further 18 in Portiuncula.

Ms Corbett-Joyce said there is “no dignity for the patients” left waiting on trolleys, however she highly praised the work of hospital staff, saying they do their best under the circumstances.

“You could feel their pressure - far too many patients and not space to move and insufficient personnel.

“It’s awful when you see the overwhelming numbers they had to deal with.

“How lives weren’t lost I don’t know,” she added.

She said hospital staff are at “breaking point” and were also trying to take bloods and measure blood pressure on the corridors.

According to Ms Corbett-Joyce, “99 per cent” of the people waiting were elderly – a sight she described as “heart wrenching”.

Her father was discharged later that evening, however, according to Ms Corbett-Joyce the overcrowding was “just as heavy” when they were leaving the hospital at 3.30pm.

He is now recovering well at home. However she said she would be reluctant if he had to return to hospital again.

“It affected me for two or three days afterwards. I couldn’t believe what I had seen.

“I’d be exceptionally worried that he’d pick up any bug or the influenza that’s rampant and to wait that many hours I’d be really terrified.”

Asked what the government needs to do to address the situation, Ms Corbett-Joyce said hiring more doctors and nurses should be an immediate priority.

“It’s no good getting a plan for six months’ time. It should be now. It should have been yesterday. Immediate.

“They need more space and they certainly struggle, the medical staff there, to cope with the numbers. They can’t cope.”

Late last month, Health Minister Simon Harris cancelled a planned visit to UHG where he was expected to make an official announcement on plans for a new emergency department. He is now expected to visit later this month.

University Hospital Galway (UHG) and Portiuncula Hospital saw a staggering 6,699 patients left waiting on trolleys in 2016 – up from 2,057 in 2006.

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