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Family of patient encouraged to leave Donegal hospital criticise group involved and apologise to staff

The patient in question left the hospital following the video but returned by ambulance two days later.

Image: Shutterstock/John And Penny

THE FAMILY OF a patient who left a Co Donegal hospital against medical advice have criticised those who were involved in encouraging him.

The man decided to leave Letterkenny University Hospital on Tuesday after being encouraged by an anti-Covid campaigner, who videoed the incident and shared it on social media. 

However, the man was taken back into the hospital on Thursday morning by ambulance, and is receiving treatment. It’s understood he was a Covid-19 patient.

A spokesperson for the family has now apologised to the staff at the hospital. 

They also criticised the actions of the people who encouraged the man to leave the hospital.

The spokesperson for the family said on social media: “He’s still in ICU under the care and attention of the excellent staff at Letterkenny University Hospital.”

The spokesperson said that the man is “in a critical but stable condition”.

“The signs are good,” he added. 

The spokesperson said the family wanted to thank staff and apologise for the actions of the man’s “so-called reckless” friends. 

 “They did not help [the patient's] recovery in any way. We would encourage everyone to follow proper medical advice,” the statement added. 

The spokesperson said the patient’s wife would also like to thank everyone for their prayers and messages of support at this time.

The video of the man and campaigner leaving the hospital went viral on social media last week. In the video the patient is seen leaving the hospital amidst claims by another man, who accompanied him, that he was being forced into the Intensive Care Unit by hospital staff.

Doctors can be seen speaking with the patient and encouraging him to remain in the hospital to allow them to help him.

However, those accompanying him from the hospital said they were “rescuing” him. 

Protesters

Meanwhile, security at the hospital has been heightened after gardaí confirmed they were twice called to the facility in recent days following incidents involving anti-vaccine protesters.

Gardaí have confirmed they were called to two incidents following reports of disturbances at the medical facility. 

There are also concerns that staff are suffering abuse at the hospital by protestors in the grounds of the hospital, including the car parks.

A garda spokesperson said: “An Garda Síochána responded to a report of a disturbance at Letterkenny University Hospital on September 14, 2021. However, on arrival those involved were no longer present.

“Enquiries are ongoing. An Garda Síochána has no role in the enforcement of Public Health Guidelines

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 “An Garda Síochána were called to Letterkenny University Hospital shortly after 3pm on 16 September 2021 in response to a disturbance involving a male visitor to the hospital. However, on arrival, the individual had left of his own accord.

“Enquiries are ongoing.”

It is understood some staff have contacted the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) about the incidents. The INMO has been contacted for comment.

The Saolta Hospital Group, which oversees the running of Letterkenny University Hospital and other hospitals throughout the country, declined to comment on claims that staff are being harassed. 

However, a Saolta spokesperson said earlier this week that they are aware of two incidents where groups have spread disinformation at its hospital sites.

The spokesperson said “Saolta has grave concerns about the impact of this type of activity on both patients and staff.

“Patient safety and care is of paramount importance to the group. Hospitals across the region are under extreme pressure as a result of record levels of attendances of both Covid and non-Covid patients.

“The deliberate spreading of dis-information and at times defamatory comments against named staff members along with the posting of these videos on social media platforms is adding significantly to the burden already facing healthcare professionals.”

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Stephen Maguire

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