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Minister: Hospital followed procedure in case of man who suffered heart attack after being turned away

In August, a Wicklow man suffered a heart attack hours after being refused treatment at a hospital.

Image: Leon Farrell via RollingNews.ie

MINISTER FOR HEALTH Simon Harris has said that Loughlinstown Hospital followed procedure in the case of a Wicklow man who was turned away from the hospital and suffered a cardiac arrest shortly after.

In August, a man from Bray arrived at St Colmcille’s Hospital complaining of chest pains and “pleaded” with the hospital to treat him. But the hospital refused, saying that he needed a letter from his GP.

The man then took a bus back to Bray to get to his GP’s office. But while walking to the GP surgery, he collapsed on the main street and had to be resuscitated by passers-by.

He was then brought by ambulance to St James’s Hospital, where he received surgery, according to Wicklow TD John Brady who brought the case to the attention of the minister.

In response to the case at the time, Harris told TheJournal.ie that “that is not the way a health service works”.

“I would be extraordinarily concerned as Minister for Health if any citizen walked into any health facility, whether it be an acute hospital or elsewhere and sought medical help and was told they needed a GP referral letter.

“That is not the way a health service works, that is not the way we work as people.”

At the time, a spokesperson for the hospital said that “established protocols” in place for people who self-present at the hospital would “be reviewed in light of concerns raised”.

But in a parliamentary question, Simon Harris said that the hospital did, in part, follow procedure.

In his reply to a question from John Brady, the minister said:

“The protocol is that when a person presents to the Medical Assessment Unit without a GP referral letter, they are advised of the need for a letter in order to be seen.”

He said that this became a part of the St Columcille’s Hospital Operational Policy for the Medical Assessment Unit, in November 2016.

But he added:

“If however, they state they are unwell or indeed look unwell and are not happy to attend their GP or another healthcare facility the protocol is that they will be reviewed by the triage nurse on duty at the hospital and a decision made regarding their most appropriate management.

“This may include being seen by the Medical Assessment Unit doctor or an emergency transfer to another healthcare provider with an Emergency Department on site. On occasion the person will be treated in St Columcille’s Hospital if appropriate.”

An investigation into the matter has been launched by the hospital.

Read: ‘That is not the way a health service works’: Harris extremely concerned if patients seeking help are turned away

Read: Man suffers heart attack after being turned away from Dublin hospital

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