*Marie McMahon. Photograph: Martin Molloy
HEALTH activists in Clare have said people in the Mid-West are “dying of neglect”.
On Tuesday morning, a total of 138 patients were on trolleys at UHL according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation. Of this 138, 65 were in the emergency department with a further 73 on trolleys in wards across the region’s main hospital.
This figure of 138 sees UHL break another record for the amount of patients on a trolley in a single day.
As of Wednesday, UHL recorded sixteen days in a row where more than 100 patients were on trolleys at the region’s main hospital.
Reacting to the figures, the Mid-West Hospital Campaign stated, “we are dying of neglect”.
Ennistymon woman, Marie McMahon who is an activist with the Mid-West Hospital Campaign told The Clare Echo, “It is appalling, absolutely catastrophic, what is even more concerning is the fact that nobody seems to care, nobody that can make a decision or have an influence, everyone is turning their backs to us, it wasn’t covered nationally on Tuesday when it was 138, if it was a hospital in Dublin they’d be knocking down the doors but it’s because the other side of the country, our politicians don’t speak up for us, when they do they offer alternatives”.
One emergency department in the Mid-West for a population in excess of 145,000 is not sufficient, Marie said. “It is just the tip of the iceberg, how many people are refusing to go to UHL or have procedures cancelled. People are terrified to go to UHL”.
She added, “Whether there’s 15 or 150 people on trolleys it doesn’t make a difference, the reputation that UHL is as bad as it could be. It’s not people scaremongering, it is everyone\s reality. When you’re vulnerable anyone because your ill the you are less able to cope with that situation. Those in power are almost dismissive of us, they seem to be afraid to acknowledge how bad it is, it is a bit like the emperor with no clothes, we can see it but they can’t acknowledge it”.
UL Hospitals Group management need to listen, Marie stressed. “The management of the hospital are being protected, the people doing the protecting are the Minister for Health, the Department of Health and the politicians, they had an opportunity to deal with it following the first HIQA report but they didn’t. It was disturbing to watch them before the Health Committee in September 2022, we don’t need to hear politicians standing up in the Dáil talking about trolley numbers and whoever answers the questions acknowledges it because no one party has any commitment to changing it. We’ve enough reports to stretch from the Cliffs of Moher to the Dáil and back again, we could lay down the pages and do that, we don’t need any more reports, we’re living it everyday it is our reality. I don’t know why local politicians are not talking it up and why they can’t admit. They have made their position clear and all we can do is say they are wrong and they need to stand with the people but that is not happening, it seems to be party before the people and that is not fair on us”.
In a statement issued on Tuesday and Wednesday, UL Hospitals Group asked the public to consider all available care options before presenting to the ED at UHL.
Clare TD, Violet-Anne Wynne (IND) had been due to raise the matter in Dáil on Wednesday but the order of business was changed on account of the death of John Bruton. She said, “The overcrowding crisis in UHL has now reached the level that even I never thought possible. 150 people on trolleys. It’s hard to even comprehend let alone find words for. I am beyond ashamed of this situation and the Government that continues to allow it to happen. The Minister told me last week in the Health Committee that he had resourced the hospital and his job was done, it was up to the hospital to do the rest. That is a blatant attempt from a Fianna Fáil Health Minister – a man from the party that closed Ennis, Nenagh and St. John’s in the first place – to rewrite history. How anyone can have confidence in this Government when my constituents are afraid of their lives to have unscheduled care honestly confounds me.
“This Government and every Government since the early 2000s has shown nothing but utter contempt for the people of the Mid-West. I have asked time and again for the reinstatement of Ennis Emergency Department and they have refused every single time but they have completely failed to give me a reason why. They sit there in Dublin and ignore the situation at UHL while my constituents are left to die like dogs. Enough is enough. This record breaking day demands significant action to deescalate the situation at the site, and I have asked for a field hospital to be set up and private capacity to be secured, but the long-term goal must be the reinstatement of the Accident and Emergency Dept at Ennis Hospital and anything less is simply unacceptable,” Deputy Wynne stated.