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Dublin: 6 °C Thursday 13 December, 2018

30 hours on a trolley in Kerry: 'I witnessed an elderly woman being shielded with towels by relatives'

John Paul O’Connor says he was shocked by what he witnessed at University Hospital Kerry last week.

John Paul O'Connor

LAST TUESDAY I was admitted to University Hospital Kerry suffering from severe lower abdominal pain.

I entered the Emergency Department at 11am on Tuesday morning and spent the first three hours getting scans and x-rays.

I was then placed on a trolley and told that I would be admitted to a ward.

I was at the end of a queue of 14 trolleys right next to the public toilets with each trolley facing away from the toilets.

I didn’t expect to be on the trolley for more than an hour but I was on it until 10pm the next day – a full 30 hours.

I was on a drip and was getting pain relief intravenously but all that time I was looking forward to getting to a ward.

There were people constantly using the toilets behind my back and I witnessed one elderly lady being shielded with towels by her relatives while they were changing her.

Sleeping tablets

There was a shortage of pillows and blankets and no place for relatives to sit down even though some had to stay through the night.

I have private health insurance and I enquired regularly as to when I would be going to a ward and was always told they would get back to me.

It was the considered opinion that if you made a fuss you had no chance of getting a bed. At one stage there were 17 trolleys lined up.

At around 10.30 on the Tuesday night, nurses came around with sleeping tablets and I knew then that I had no chance of getting a bed.

I felt the manner in which they were being dished out was a way of putting us to sleep, and hopefully hearing no more, so I refused them.

One man in front of me took two sleeping tablets as he said he could not bear it. I didn’t take any but I never slept.

‘Beaten into submission’

I have worked in construction for over 40 years and would consider myself a strong and fit person but I would not go through this again and I shudder to think of the effect it is having on elderly and less mobile people than myself.

I travelled to many different countries with my work and about 20 years ago I was hospitalised in Eastern Europe due to a construction accident. I was dreading it but the experience was far superior to what I just witnessed in my own country.

My wife Kathleen was horrified at what she witnessed and she tried to help people as much as possible.

It’s also an absolute disgrace that the relatives who are minding their loved ones are faced with penal car park charges when they do decide to go home.

I have also come to the realisation that we as Irish people are beaten into submission and are prepared to take anything that is thrown at us while the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

I’d like to clear out all top management and establish a working committee whose salaries would be based on results.

John Paul O’Connor worked in construction but lost his business during the recession. He has since started his own  food business, Man from the Mountain


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John Paul O'Connor

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