Hospital patients are packed in like sardines

Mary Corbett-Joyce.

The family of a 93-year-old man who spent thirteen hours on a hospital trolley has opened up about the “inhumane” conditions in the cramped Emergency Department of University Hospital Galway.

Mary Corbett-Joyce from Clifden today gives a horror account of her father’s trip extended stay in the overcrowded city ED, which was bursting with patients on trolleys.

“I was stunned by the overcrowding. It is absolutely heart-breaking the inhumane conditions the patients – mostly elderly – were being treated in. It was the same for staff. The nurses and the doctors were under so much pressure, perspiration was rolling down their faces, they couldn’t move in there it was so packed, they were so busy.

“They needed three times the number of staff and they needed to treble the size of the Emergency Department to cater for the amount of patients that were on trolleys and in the waiting room,” she said.

Ms Corbett-Joyce personal account of the visit to January 3 will be familiar to scores of families who have endured overcrowding in UHG and Portiuncula in the past months.

It comes in the same week as new figures reveal that in the past ten years, there has been a 500% increase in the numbers of patients waiting on trolleys at the ED in UHG and Portiuncula in Ballinasloe.

In December 2006, there was a combined 145 people on trolleys in ED at Portiuncula and UHG; in December 2016 that figure had increased to 737, according to analysis by Sinn Féin City Councillor Maireád Farrell.

She blamed Health Minister Simon Harris for presiding over a scenario whereby trolley figures in Galway’s two public EDs have increased by more than five times since 2006.

“UHG has some of the worse overcrowding in the state and it has had to implement full-capacity protocol several times recently due to overcrowding in ED. Just before the Christmas there was one day when over 50 people were waiting on trolleys at UHG – the highest figure nationally. That is absolute madness.

“Health workers and their unions in Galway are sick and tired of identifying the need for increased capacity. The Minister should start with the reopening of 500 beds in our hospitals.

“We need to increase capacity in primary care. This would enable more patients to transfer to a community setting. This can only be done by increasing home help hours and recruiting more therapists,” said Cllr Farrell.

See full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune.