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Varadkar 'embarrassed and ashamed' by elderly man's death after 12 hours on hospital trolley

Eddie Moloney died from a brain haemorrhage beside a blaring TV at University Hospital Limerick.

Eddie Moloney's children Paul and Joanne
Eddie Moloney's children Paul and Joanne

MINISTER FOR HEALTH Leo Varadkar has said he is “embarrassed and ashamed” that an elderly man passed away after lying on a trolley in a hospital corridor for 12 hours.

Eddie Moloney (73) eventually died from a brain haemorrhage in a public ward at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) on 11 October after being rushed to its emergency department the previous day.

His children told RTÉ’s The Big Picture health special last night that hospital staff had told them there was no private room available for their father, despite his suffering from a brain bleed.

Moloney, a Limerick bar owner, was instead left on a trolley next to drunk patients as his family said their goodbyes.

Appearing on the same programme, Varadkar said he was “embarrassed and ashamed” that anyone nearing the end of their life should die in such circumstances.

“The ideal situation, of course, is that any end-of-life patient should be in a private room,” he said.

UHL told RTÉ in a statement that it “regrets if any patient or their families has a poor experience”.

“A patient identified as being at the end of life is prioritised for a bed,” it said.

In a busy hospital environment … this is not always possible … There was a high incidence of flu which was reflected in the hospital population … The emergency department is too small and is not fit for purpose.

The hospital added that a new state-of-the-art emergency department will open in the first quarter of 2017.

‘Chaos’

Moloney’s daughter, Joanne, told the programme that she hoped no other family would have to endure the same distress as her own.

“There was a brain scan done and that’s when they knew the extent of the bleed, that [he] wouldn’t be waking up ever again,” she said.

The family’s grief was further compounded when a bed could not be found for their father.

“It was chaos. It was a Friday night in the hospital,” Joanne said of the day he was admitted to hospital.

There were a lot of drunk people around on trolleys … When he went to sit up in his bed, he fell off his trolley and banged into my mother while she was trying to rub my dad’s hand.

In the public ward her father was eventually admitted to, she said, “there was a big rugby match on TV, and there were people cheering and clapping” as he died.

However, she praised hospital staff for doing everything they could to support the family.

A poll carried out yesterday by Amarách Research for Claire Byrne Live found that most people (55%) would be willing to forgo tax cuts for greater investment in the health service.

Some 34% of respondents said they would not, while 11% said they were unsure.

Read: Health Board knew girl was being sexually abused in her home but didn’t tell gardaí 

Read: Varadkar defends comments about extra resources making hospitals slow down

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Catherine Healy

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