91-year old waited all night for an ambulance

by Bernie English uhltrolleybernie@limerickpost.ie

A 91 year old man was kept on a trolley in the Emergency Department of the University Hospital in Limerick for almost twelve hours – despite the fact that he had been treated and was ready for discharge eleven hours earlier.

The elderly man took a tumble in St Camillus community hospital, where he lives, last week.

His daughter told the Limerick Post:” He was taken to the ED and I went there to be with him. The staff were fantastic, very attentive to him. He arrived there around 11pm, was seen very quickly and by midnight, the doctor said everything was fine and he could go”.

But the trouble started when staff called for an ambulance to take the 91 year old back to St Camillus.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

“Dad is very frail, otherwise I would have just put him in my car and driven him but the staff said he would have to go by ambulance.

“We were waiting a while and then told that the ambulance had been diverted to an emergency.  We kept asking and the staff kept ringing to find out when there might be an ambulance available but it took until 10.30 am the following morning to get home.

“All that time he was lying on a trolley, very uncomfortable. The trauma of all that was worse than the fall that meant he had to go to the ED in the first place. At one stage, I went outside and saw ambulances parked across the road so I went over to see if any of them could help us but they said they couldn’t without instructions. And all that time, there were people waiting who needed the trolley while my dad wanted nothing more than to be off it and gone home”.

The incident came at the begining of a week which saw 53 people waiting on trolleys on one morning for admission through the ED.

Also this week, Health Minister Leo Varadkar warned hospital bosses and high-level civil servants that p45’s will start flying unless the trolley stacking crisis is addressed.

In a hard-hitting internal email he described the situation as “worrying” and said he is extremely concerned about what will happen over the winter months.

“I have no reason to believe it won’t be worse than last year and that really means a head or heads will have to roll,” the Minister said.

A spokesman for UHL said they are investigating why there was no ambulance available to transport the 91-year old patient.