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‘I saw more backsides on a trolley than in my nursing career’

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*Patricia McNamara addressed the crowd at Sunday’s protest. Photograph: John Mangan

A retired nurse who also experienced life as a hospital patient recently has declared there “is no privacy or dignity” for individuals receiving medical care at University Hospital Limerick (UHL)

Almost three years ago, Patricia McNamara was transported by ambulance to UHL having woke in the middle of the night with chest pains. Proper care is not being administered to patients she maintained because staff are “overworked and underpaid”.

“I suffered a nasty journey into Limerick not their fault, got there and was put on a trolley with lots of other unfortunate people. I’m a fighter. About six nurses were walking up and down, I don’t blame them, they are overworked and underpaid, they were walking up and down and I’m calling ‘help me please give me something for the pain’ and no one did. I got off the trolley and said ‘can you help me nurse’, ‘I’m not a nurse I’m a doctor’ she said, ‘I don’t care what you are just give me something for my pain’ and I eventually did get something. I was on that trolley for three days before I had an operation for a gall bladder, not a very serious thing, three days on a trolley comfortable for me as a youngish woman but I saw more backsides then I ever did in my nursing career, these people had no dignity, no privacy, we weren’t asked if we wanted a drink of water or a cup of tea, they came now and again to check my blood pressure and had time for nothing else”.

For fifty years, Patricia worked as a nurse. Her brother died last July while in hospital in what she described as a horrifying time. “He had a wonderful team in the intensive care unit but I could not get to speak to any doctor, I tried and I tried because I was unhappy with his treatment, being a nurse I knew what was going on, his legs were wide open to the fresh air and a nurse told me ‘the fresh air will do him good’ and I said ‘not in a four bedded ward where bacteria from four patients, visitors, cleaners, doctors and nurses is flying around it won’t do him any good’. He died of septicaemia, he was 67 years old, he wasn’t a well man but that’s besides the point. I saw more horror in those days in the hospital”.

According to the Tulla woman, an elderly neighbour of hers spent three days on a trolley at UHL. “She was not asked once, we stayed with her for about 15 hours, she was not asked once would she like a drink of water or did she need to use the toilet, I had to go out and buy water for her and then look for someone to ask was she allowed to have a drink of water”.

Fianna Fáil TD, Timmy Dooley amongst the crowd. Photograph: John Mangan

Having spotted Clare TD Timmy Dooley in the crowd before speaking at Sunday’s protest, Patricia criticised the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour politicians for failing to reopen the A&E at Ennis General Hospital while in Government. “I saw Timmy Dooley of Fianna Fáil creeping around on the outside of the crowd like a coward, they downgraded our hospital to what it is now, how dare Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael I’m sick and tired of them, he probably fecked off because he saw my face and knew what was coming”.

“I’m sick and tired of it, I love Ennis Hospital, it can be built up and built out if they didn’t give all the bloody money to UHL. Down Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour, vote for anyone ye like but don’t vote for those gangsters”.

Newmarket-on-Fergus native, Páraic McMahon is a freelance journalist and broadcaster currently working for numerous national and local publications including The Clare Echo, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent, The Irish Times, RTÉ, TheJournal.ie, The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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