COUNTY Limerick Independent TD Richard O’Donoghue, who is an outspoken critic of management at University Hospital Limerick, got a first hand view of the hospital’s facilities after he was involved in a single-vehicle accident on the busy M7 motorway last Thursday.
The 51-year-old was returning from the Dáil to his home in Granagh when his car skidded and “flipped over” on the sleet covered road surface.
“He was obviously badly shaken, and the car was seriously damaged, but the main thing is that he was extremely lucky to come away from it largely uninjured. Yes, he is stiff and sore,” a spokesperson for Mr. O’Donoghue told the Limerick Post.
“Richard’s biggest fear was that after his car flipped and landed back on the road was that he’d get hit by another vehicle. He is just thankful to be alive.”
In an ironic twist, the TD later attended University Hospital Limerick (UHL) for assessment, just a week after being involved in a series of high profile clashes with the hospital’s management over its efforts to deal with record levels of overcrowding.
“Richard was assessed, and it was decided that he be held overnight as a precautionary measure. He had an x-ray, CT scan and an MRI,” the TDs’ spokesperson stated from his constituency office in Kilmallock.
When contacted himself, Deputy O’Donoghue stated: “The doctors and nurses were top class, working under extreme pressure. And, unfortunately, I witnessed first-hand the chaotic nature of overcrowding.
“I was on a trolley for several hours myself. At one stage, I counted myself and 46 others on a trolley on both sides of a corridor. Chaotic stuff, to be honest.
“I was in three different zones, A, B and C, and there were people on trolleys in everyone of them. When Health Minister Stephen Donnelly visited UHL, he wasn’t shown the true picture. The reality was that those trolleys were hidden from him.”
“It’s a health and safety liability, as if someone was to get a cardiac arrest the nurses and doctors would have to shove trolleys out of their way to get to that person.”
He added: “There is only one solution to it and that is to immediately re-open the accident and emergency departments at Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals.”
Away from politics, Deputy O’Donoghue is also a building contractor with many employees and is deeply engaged in vintage and classic cars, helping to stage several charity shows across Limerick.
He is a first-time TD, having secured the third and final seat in Limerick County two years ago.