Trolley crisis in Tallaght worsens

by Ian Begley

Tallaght Hospital has come in for serious criticism following reports of patients being left on trolleys for prolonged periods of time.
According to new figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, the numbers on trolleys in Tallaght Hospital jumped from 309 in 2014 to stand at 533 last month – a difference of 224 people.
These figures follow a controversial statement that Tallaght Hospital’s Dr James Gray sent to Health Minister Leo Varadkar and the hospital’s chief executive, David Slevin, recently, which described a 91-year-old patient spending 29 hours on a trolley there.
He wrote: “This man, like the others in non-designated patient conduits, have no privacy, no dignity, are subjected to constant noise torture, constant light torture, resulting in major sleep deprivation, pressure effects causing pain as lying for advanced periods on a trolley is not designed for same, as well as boarding conditions that constitute an infection control hazard.
“It is only a matter of time before we disclose our next crowding related death at Tallaght Hospital while crowding is tolerated.”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny responded to the statement in the Dail, saying that hospital management needed to explain how the situation was allowed to happen and asked who was responsible for leaving the elderly man there.
Dublin Mid-West General Election candidate John Curran (FF) has expressed alarm following the new figures.
He said: “The situation in Tallaght has been allowed to deteriorate over the past three years to a place where it is almost beyond repair.
“Every month hundreds of people are being treated in crowded emergency rooms and packed wards as the Health Minister sits back without intervening.
“This is causing much stress and anxiety not only for the patients themselves, who are being deprived of dignity in these exposed areas, but also for the frontline staff charged with their care,” he said.
Responding to the elderly man’s prolonged wait in the hospital, Minister Varadkar said it was “indefensible” that any patient was forced to spend more than 24 hours in an emergency department.
He said that he rang the patient personally to ask him about his experience on the trolley. He told the Minister he was happy with the standard of care he received and that his experience had been misrepresented.
Hospital consultants are also in talks with the Minister to discuss the overcrowding crisis.
In the statement, Tallaght Hospital said: “[We] cannot comment on individual patient cases due to patient confidentiality, however, we are aware of a delay in admitting elderly patients this week for which we unreservedly apologise.”
It said: “Delays are currently under review by management and while the delays are undesirable there were no critical or clinical incidents reported in the emergency department [recently] arising from delays in allocating ward beds.
“The hospital has a policy of prioritising the allocation of ward beds for elderly patients and is currently implementing a number of initiatives to improve patient flow processes through providing more inpatient beds funded under the HSE winter initiative, developing its Frail Elderly Initiative and completing the €5m upgrade of the emergency department.”

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