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Green Party Senator Roisin Garvey has described people having to hang out of barn and shed roofs to get phone and broadband coverage.

Senator shares her traumatic trolley experience at UHL

The need to extend the opening hours of the Ennis Local Injury Unit (LIU) to a 24-hour basis has been highlighted by Senator Roisín Garvey after her “traumatic experience” spending two days on a trolley in University Hospital Limerick last June.

Senator Garvey was referred from Ennis to UHL on June 4 after breaking her leg the previous evening.

Senator Garvey recalled there were trolleys on the corridors and on wards when she was admitted to the ED in UHL. After spending about two days on a trolley, the Green Party Senator got a bed in a ward on Monday morning.

“I was in a hallway and then I got moved into a ward corridor. I was nearly better off in the hallway downstairs than in the ward corridor because I felt I was in everyone’s way. I was moved in the middle of the night, which seemed strange.

“When I was on a trolley on the ward I was behind this screen and I missed the doctor doing his rounds because he didn’t see me even though he had seen my x-rays. If you miss the doctor on his rounds, you have to wait another day to see him.

“It seems so busy and chaotic you feel bad asking for help. I was going around in a wheelchair giving water and blankets to elderly patients on the first night. One man asked for a blanket and couldn’t get it. I asked for a blanket three times and then gave them out to people.

“When you are on a trolley you don’t seem to be part of the system. People are rushing past you because they are under so much pressure.

“I was embarrassed particularly for elderly people lying on trolleys and parents with young sick children. I was embarrassed for the staff as well. Hospitals need more nurses.

“We want action now, people are sick of talking about it. For people who are living in rural areas, you have to drive or be driven to UHL.

“There was only one electrical socket working on the corridor so patients were trying to charge their phones from one socket.

“It is not fair on the staff either. I put off going to the toilet and looking for painkillers because the staff were so busy. I am an assertive person, so if I am not asking for help, I am sure older people are not asking.

“If you don’t have someone advocating for you in UHL, you are in trouble,” she said.

Having been seen in the Ennis Local Injury Clinic, she was quickly referred to UHL at 10 am on Saturday morning.

“The service in Ennis was excellent. I was x-rayed within ten minutes of my arrival and within an hour they had got the word back to send me straight down to UHL where I only had to wait about 30 minutes.

“I should have gone into hospital on Friday night but I couldn’t face the ED in UHL because I knew I would be waiting for hours so I decided to wait until the LIU in Ennis was open on Saturday morning.

“I didn’t bother ringing an ambulance because my friend fell the week before and she was waiting four hours.”

She said if more patients attended Ennis, it would reduce the pressure on UHL. When Ennis Hospital isn’t operating, she explained Clare patients have no choice but to attend UHL.

“You can’t arrange to fall or get sick between 8am and 8pm. You can’t write into your diary when you are going to be sick. A lot of people get sick at night.”

“People live in fear of having to attend the ED in UHL,” she added.

Following surgery on Monday, she said the treatment from doctors and nurses was “amazing”.

“Once you get in the service is brilliant. The problem is getting into the hospital because of the lack of services in Ennis and Nenagh. UHL can’t cope and until services are improved in Ennis and Nenagh, UHL will not be fit for purpose.

“If Slaintecare was implemented in Clare, this would provide better community health services in places like Kilrush, Ennistymon and Killaloe, which would take the pressure off UHL.”

Twenty years ago, she recalled there were better health services in India than UHL now when her sister got sick and was treated very quickly when she required hospital treatment.

The UL Hospitals’ Group stated it is unable to comment on individual cases, due to its ethical and legal obligations to respect and protect the privacy of all patients who attend it hospitals, and its staff.

“UHL has for almost 18 months been managing significantly high numbers of very sick people attending the Emergency Department with complex conditions.

“However, this is not to minimise the inconvenience to patients and their loved ones arising from long waits for admission and treatment, and the group apologises to any person who has been impacted.”

The group confirmed there are currently no plans to extend the hours of the Injury Unit in Ennis Hospital.

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