Kenny criticises ‘shocking’ hospital treatment of man (91)

Finian McGrath ordered from Dáil during debate over patient left on trolley for 29 hours

Enda Kenny said the treatment of a 91-year-old at Tallaght hospital was a “shocking example of dysfunctionality in the system”. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Enda Kenny said the treatment of a 91-year-old at Tallaght hospital was a “shocking example of dysfunctionality in the system”. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has asked who was responsible for leaving a 91-year-old man on a hospital trolley for 29 hours.

Describing it as a “shocking example of dysfunctionality in the system”, he said “you don’t need legislation to know that a 91-year-old should not be left on a trolley for lengthy periods.”

During heated Dáil exchanges Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin described the health system as “chaotic” and told the Taoiseach he and the Government had to accept responsibility.

He had raised the case of a couple in their 90s left waiting in the emergency department in Tallaght hospital.

A consultant at the hospital had written to its chief executive and to the Minister for Health, stating that the man who had advanced Parkinson’s disease was left on a trolley for 29 hours with “no privacy, no dignity [and] was subject to constant noise torture, constant light torture”.

The consultant in his letter added that “nobody of any age should be subjected to this inhumanity”, Mr Martin quoted.

He said the letter concluded that it was only a matter of time before the disclosure of the next overcrowding-related death at Tallaght hospital, while overcrowding was tolerated.

Mr Kenny said he agreed with the consultant that it was a “shocking example of dysfunctionality in the system”.

He said a 91-year-old man should not be left on a trolley in the first instance “if that can be at all prevented and if not, certainly not for that length of time”.

He said serious changes were being implemented in many hospitals and “some of these changes are being resisted, as they have always been resisted”.

The Taoiseach said: “I do not understand how what happened to this 91-year-old man was allowed to happen.

“It is up to everybody in the health service to play their part, accept their responsibilities and to work to ensure that the plan works.”

The Taoiseach said “somebody has to make a decision about the extent of medical priority such that no 91-year-old is left on a trolley for 29 hours”.

He said an extra €117 million had been added to free up hospital beds, create additional beds and hire more staff.

Mr Kenny said there were more beds, delayed discharges had been reducing steadily and 300 additional beds were to open shortly.

“The facilities are being provided. The extra staff are also being provided as is the money, but it is still not making the impact that it should.”

‘Absolute disgrace’

Independent TD Finian McGrath said “the Government gave tax cuts to the rich instead of increasing hospital beds, which is an absolute disgrace.”

He added that it was “outrageous” that a 91-year-old should be left on a trolley for 29 hours and it was happening every day.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett told Mr McGrath to sit down and “don’t be putting on a show for the television”.

But when he persisted Mr Barrett ordered him from the House.

Mr Martin said it was not about saying the staff had to accept responsibility. They did. Last February they were shocked that a 100-year-old woman spent 24 hours on a trolley and the Taoiseach said the same thing then, he said.

Mr Kenny said: “If the facilities are there and the money is there, is this a management problem or is it just being exacerbated because of a situation that can apply in any locality where more people have to go to hospital?”