Trolley crisis is again reaching unsafe levels in Tallaght Hospital

By Mary Dennehy

ON THE fifth anniversary of Thomas Walsh’s death on a trolley in Tallaght Hospital’s emergency department, the trolley crisis reached unsafe levels as 537 patients lay on trolleys nationwide.

Thomas Walsh (65) from Kilnamanagh sadly passed away on March 2, 2011 while lying on a trolley in a corridor of Tallaght Hospital, after he had been admitted by ambulance nearly 15 hours earlier with severe ankle pain.

Tallaght hospital 6

The father-of-two, who had documented underlying health conditions, had been left sitting on a chair for approximately nine hours before been moved onto a trolley – with an inquest ruling that Mr Walsh died of bronchial pneumonia and heart problems.

Mr Walsh’s death sparked a year-long investigation into Tallaght Hospital by health watchdog HIQA, which published a 300-page report on patient safety at the hospital, and made a number of recommendations for changes both at Tallaght and hospitals nationwide.

Despite HIQA’s recommend-ations, patients are still being left on trolleys in emergency departments nationwide with numbers this Wednesday, March 2, reaching a recorded high of 537 – with figures locally seeing 20 patients on trolleys in Tallaght Hospital’s A&E and 18 people lying on wards.

Emergency department doctor James Gray, who was highly critical of the care provided to Mr Walsh during the inquest into his death, told The Echo this week that HIQA needs more powers in relation to sanctioning its recommendations or else a new body must be established that can enforce recommendations.

Describing the trolley crisis as reaching “unsafe” levels, Dr Gray also stressed the need for more corporate accountability in the healthcare system, alongside additional beds, including step-down beds.

Speaking on the fifth anniversary of his dad’s death, Thomas Walsh’s son Simon told The Echo: “Obviously it is disappointing to hear on the fifth anniversary of my dad’s death that the situation in Tallaght Hospital is still making the news, but it is clear that steps have been made to make the hospital safer, which is welcomed.

“People like Dr Gray should be commended for their work in advocating for better conditions, and I believe it is because of him and others in Tallaght Hospital that things have changed there.

“To die alone on a trolley in a corridor is a disgusting way for any person’s life to end, and if what is happening at the moment throughout hospitals across the country continues I am certain that other families will experience what we have had to over the last five years.”

When contacted by The Echo, a spokesman for Tallaght Hospital, which has the busiest emergency department in the country, said that it is experiencing pressures in adult inpatients due to seasonal peaks in service demand.

The spokesman added that the hospital has a full escalation process in place to address the peak in demand and to continue to provide safe and quality care to patients – with numbers on trolleys at the local hospital down 16 per cent on this time last year despite an 8 per cent increase in emergency department attendances.

 

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