Second 101-year-old spends 25 hours on hospital trolley

Woman’s treatment at University Hospital Limerick ‘would not be seen in Third World’

A 101-year old woman has had to endure a 25-hour wait on a trolley at the emergency department of University Hospital Limerick (UHL), in the second such reported case in recent days.

Last week it emerged a 101-year-old woman had to wait 26 hours on a trolley at Dublin’s Tallaght hospital, something health minister Leo Varadkar said should not have happened.

“An investigation will now be conducted into this incident and any patient spending 24 hours on a trolley is now a reportable event,” he said.

The latest case involves a Co Clare woman who last Wednesday was waiting five hours for an ambulance to transfer her 34km from Ennis general hospital to Limerick’s University Hospital.


The grandmother from Ballinruan near Crusheen then waited 25 hours on a trolley at UHL emergency department before getting a bed late on Thursday.

The woman’s granddaughter said she was also “left fasting for the most of a day for a scope that was not going to happen that day at all and was rescheduled”.


Industrial relations officer with the Irish Nurses and

Midwives Organisation


Mary Fogarty

said it was an inhumane case.

“You wouldn’t see it in the Third World. It is a catastrophic situation where the oldest person in the hospital is left to languish on a trolley for all of that time. How was this allowed to happen?” she asked.

“It raises serious questions around respect for the elderly and also questions around the management of patients that attend that A&E there.”

Ms Fogarty said that the situation in Limerick “hasn’t improve one iota. It is worse than it ever was”.

The woman’s granddaughter said her grandmother is now “doing quite well” and may get to move back to Ennis hospital, and then hopefully home. The family has asked that the woman not be named.

Unexpected increase

A spokeswoman for the


said on Monday that the emergency department at UHL has seen an unexpected increase in patients over the past week.

She said the hospital group could not comment on specific patients, but that it apologised for any delays in admittance.

“Delivery of the best possible care for the patient is our priority from the moment of presentation,” she said.

“Staff across the group are working very hard to ensure the optimum care and safety of all our patients during this exceptionally busy period. Amongst the factors contributing to the increase in pressure within the ED is the older age profile of patients presenting along with the complexity of issues they have,” she added.

She also said the hospital group had taken a number of steps to help reduce numbers and wait times for patients. Patients were being transferred from UHL to Ennis hospital, Nenagh hospital and St John’s Hospital and patients were also being transferred to community care where possible.

“Extra rounds are ongoing to identify patients who have finished their episode of acute care to enable them to be discharged. We are in regular contact with GPs to ensure that patients are referred appropriately for their care.

“These actions have resulted in a significant reduction in patients waiting in the ED, however numbers still remain above what we would like.”

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times