‘Nurses and doctors were not discreet’: what patients say about hospitals

Survey of more than 13,000 people reveal both positive and negative experiences

Some patients said there was a lack of privacy when consultants were discussing medical histories. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Some patients said there was a lack of privacy when consultants were discussing medical histories. Photograph: Cyril Byrne


More than 13,000 patients were surveyed for Hiqa’s National Patience Experience Survey last May and the reports on 39 hospitals include many of their comments, both positive and negative. This is a selection of patient views about some of the hospitals reviewed.

St Vincent’s University Hospital

“I feel that anybody aged 70 or over should be treated in a separate A&E section. A&E is not a pleasant place to be and elderly people should not have to witness some of the anti-social behaviour that is seen there.”

“The overall hygiene in the hospital is shocking. The floors of the corridors were filthy and disgusting, the toilets were appalling. There was zero hand hygiene observed from the staff. There was a spillage observed in the lift which was there for the duration of the stay. Not only was there no patient kindness, there was no kindness towards my mother – for example. My mother had to go downstairs to use the bathroom or get a drink having spent half of the night in resus. It would have been kind for someone to offer her a drink.”

“My care was exceptional, all doctors introduced themselves by first names and I found this very good. Everybody treated me with dignity I was in ICU for a few days and the care there was excellent as well.”

“More cubicles in A&E, as I was on a trolley for 42 hours and I was moved around a lot and had no privacy. More nurses, as this will help them to spend more time with the patients and help them to relax more while in hospital.”

Galway University Hospitals

“I was one of the unfortunate ‘trolley number’ placed on a trolley beside a door in a ward where nursing staff constantly apologised for. The nursing staff were courteous, kind, caring and worked so hard.”

“The time in A&E. Terrible delays. No one should have to wait seven hours plus for a blood test. Then wait another 12 hours for a bed. Scandalous in 2018!”

“Most of the nurses were good and kind but there were some who were not very helpful, especially to the elderly.”

“I was in a 12-bed ward and when discussing my treatment. Nurses and doctors were not discreet and anyone in the ward could have heard. More discretion when discussing treatments.”

South Tipperary General Hospital, Clonmel

“The nurses and doctors in A&E were excellent and were inundated with constant stream of patients... The day I arrived they had three urgent accidents (motor) cases and I like others sat in for 10 hours waiting but when I was eventually seen the medical teams, though exhausted, took great care of me.”

“Food is terrible. It was cold. I never ate anything for the few days I was in, except cornflakes. Day one post op offered cold scrambled eggs. Nothing else. I lost 2kgs in my short stay.”

Your hospital experience

“I felt that doctors could have a better bedside manner and talk to their patients and include them in their conversation, and not ignore them.”

University Hospital Limerick

“A&E is a complete zoo. Not enough beds and way too much pressure on staff.”

“No one seems to be in charge. Lots of staff wearing different uniforms and no one seems to answer to anyone. Lack of co-ordination and co-operation between medical staff, nurses, cleaners and helpers.”

“Privacy. I found at times it upset me. You would pull curtains for privacy. And they would be pulled back. I knew all the patients’ medical histories.”

Beaumont Hospital, Dublin

“A&E was horrendous experience. It’s unacceptable to be waiting such a long time to be even assessed. Very little privacy once admitted [before going to ward]. Very degrading for very sick people to be placed on chairs/trolleys. Really substandard/third-world conditions. A really upsetting experience.”

“I experienced a lot of kindness from the cochlear implant staff and also the nurses were so helpful. Good communication. Whatever is wrong in the HSE it is not the doctors or nurses that are at fault.”

“When I was being discharged the morning after surgery. I was ushered into a waiting room at 7.30am before I had a chance to get dressed. The consultant spoke to me for less than 2 minutes in the corridor, I did not get any time to ask questions about the surgery. I was told to come back to clinic in two weeks. I had no idea what I was supposed to do about dressings on my leg etc, had to Google it when I got home.”

Mater Hospital, Dublin

“A&E – after seeing doctor and surgeon, I spent a further five and a half hours sitting waiting for a bed – which must have been empty the whole night. Sitting in with all the drink- and drug-related injuries and illnesses, when I feel they could have been treated in another area.”

“The food was atrocious, particularly the daytime dinners. As a patient for two weeks I never ate a dinner. I lived on the soup. Please give out more wholesome meals.”

“The cleanness of the hospital could be better. My room was hardly ever cleaned in the nine weeks I was staying in the hospital. Also they need to pay more attention to whether the soap or paper towels need to be refilled.”

“Following triage in ED I was treated very efficiently. Most staff were very friendly and approachable both in ED and on the ward.”

St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny

“St Luke’s Hospital needs between 40-60 additional beds on the wards due to volume of patients. I have had two admissions since October and spent five days on the corridors – not the fault of anyone, but it would be fair to say that it is the Achilles heel of St Luke’s and could be improved upon.”

“Treatment of elder patients, given no privacy. Nurses discussed patients’ conditions with the possibility of others overhearing. Carers would roll their eyes and be quite arrogant towards the older patients. Time taken to receive medicine. Urine bags were emptied during dinner time – very off-putting.”

“Whoever had the low, mean frustrating idea of mixing men and women in the wards? It is degrading and humiliating to old people who paid their taxes all their working lives and who are entitled to respect and dignity and privacy in their old age.”

Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise

“Sometimes it felt like the consultant was talking over me like I had some cognitive deficit, but I could clearly understand everything that was happening to me.”

“Bathrooms need to be cleaned particularly in ward as the floor was very dirty.”

Letterkenny Hospital

“Waiting time in A&E – I sat on a plastic chair for 17 hours without as much as a cup of tea before I was seen to. In this day and age that is downright crazy and should be looked into.”

“Kind, courteous and very caring nursing staff and doctors – despite being short/under staffed and overworked.”

“Possibly maybe the doctors could be more clear in their discussions. Not everyone has attended medical school.”