Terminally ill patients in Galway A&E denied dignity and privacy

Nurses protest over ‘unacceptable conditions’ at University Hospital Galway

University Hospital Galway: management confirmed that lack of privacy is an issue, and that some patients have experienced “difficulties”. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

University Hospital Galway: management confirmed that lack of privacy is an issue, and that some patients have experienced “difficulties”. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

 

Terminally ill patients and their families are being deprived of dignity and privacy in the emergency department of the west’s largest hospital, protesting nurses at University Hospital Galway (UHG) have said.

Such patients are being treated along corridors in “unacceptable conditions”, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said at a lunchtime demonstration yesterday, which was supported by members of trade union Siptu.

Some 60 emergency department nurses participated in the protest, which also had the backing of various hospital staff but did not involve any disruption of service.

 

Right to protest

Hospital management had confirmed in a statement beforehand that lack of privacy is an issue, and that some patients have experienced “difficulties” attending the emergency department. It also confirmed it is providing stress management support to nursing staff.

 

West/North West Hospitals Group chief executive officer Bill Maher said that “as head of this organisation, I wouldn’t want this service for me or any of my loved ones, I don’t want it for any of my patients and I don’t want it for any of my staff”.

He said that hospital management was working to resolve the issue, and respected staff’s right to protest.

“We offer our apologies as this is not the level of service we would like to provide,” he said. “Bear with us, but this will be fixed.”

INMO industrial relations officer Claire Treacy said there had been a 118 per cent increase in the number of patients coming through the emergency department at UHG in the past year.

 

More beds

“People are dying. It is happening in the corridors,” Ms Treacy said, and this was “devastating obviously for the family and devastating for the nurses to be forced to provide care under those circumstances”.

 

The West/North West Hospitals Group has confirmed 70,000 patients came through the emergency department last year.

“We have a commitment from community services that more beds will be sourced in the community so that long- term care patients can be moved to more appropriate settings, resulting in more acute beds becoming available within the hospital,” the hospital group said.

“The nursing staff shortage in the emergency department is being addressed”.

The emergency department building needs to be updated and an application for capital funding is being made, it said.