"Longford patient left on trolley overnight"
by Neil Halligan
The recent overcrowding at Mullingar hospital saw one patient from Longford left on a trolley overnight with a drip feed, a local councillor has revealed.
Cllr Peggy Nolan, speaking to the Leader, said it was time to get a definitive statement on the future of Mullingar hospital and its services.
"On Thursday, there were 28 people on trolleys. Even if they were sent up to a ward on a trolley, they were still on that trolley.
"There was one particular Longford person on a trolley yesterday connected to a drip and was left on that trolley until the early hours of this morning (Friday, Jan 7). If that's best practice, if that's what were expected to accept, it can't continue.
"We need a definitive statement from the HSE to know the future of A&E at Mullingar," said Cllr Nolan.
She said it's very difficult for staff and patients to speak out against the hospital "for fear of repercussions".
Cllr Nolan said staff were told in a printed statement from the HSE about the current situation.
"With the overcrowding at Mullingar, despite the fact that there's a ward closed, the patients are expected to be put in to wards.
"In a 12-bed ward, it is being suggested that two trolleys go in to that ward because of the overcrowding situation there. That's how they're dealing with it, instead of staffing and opening up another ward.
"It cannot be healthy," claimed Cllr Nolan. "You have HIQA (Health Information and Quality Authority) on one hand closing down beds in St Joseph's where there are six beds in a ward, HIQA are saying there should be four beds for good practice. And here you have the reverse of that in Mullingar. Even in the alcoves of the windows, they're expected to put trolleys with patients - very, very ill patients. Not day patients - patients seeking acute medical attention."
She said the threat of decreasing the hours at the A&E department is still there, despite assurances in the past from the HSE.
"It was made known to me almost 12 months that the surgery and acute services at Mullingar hospital were under threat of being moved to Tullamore. At the time the HSE denied it.
"However, there's only one A&E consultant, and the man can't work 24-7. It was made known to me that the HSE plan to have an eight-hour A&E, from 8am to 8pm and that's what's on the cards now."
The HSE denied this in a statement earlier this week saying that the issue had been no discussions on such a move.