Widow of man found unresponsive on UHL trolley 'vindicated' by Hiqa report

09 Nov.,2022


Hospital trolley

A woman who has campaigned tirelessly for change at University Hospital Limerick since her husband died on a trolley said she feels “vindicated” by a damning report on the crisis in the emergency department. 

Health watchdog HIQA has issued a scathing assessment of the hospital, highlighting that people have been left waiting for a bed in the emergency department for as long as 116 hours, and almost two days for urgent scans. 

It called for a new hospital to be built to take fewer acute patients and for immediate changes to bed numbers.

Inspectors found that “notwithstanding the efforts of staff, patients on trolleys had little to no privacy or dignity”. 

University Hospital Limerick has come under a lot of heat recently over long waiting times, overcrowding, and overworked staff. Picture: Brian Arthur

Rosters they examined showed the emergency department  was short “four to eight nurses per shift” over four weeks.

Tommy Wynne, aged 65, was found unresponsive in UHL in April 2018 after 36 hours on a trolley in a corridor. He was later pronounced dead.

His wife Marie McMahon was with him for much of that time and has been campaigning for years for investment and improvements at the hospital.

“It’s a very emotional day,” she said yesterday. 

“It’s backing up everything we have been saying. It has vindicated everything we have been saying.” 

The Clarewoman has spoken at protests with the MidWest Hospital Campaign group to highlight the poor standard of service for the region.

“I didn’t do this just for Tommy, but I know he wouldn’t have wanted us to have stayed quiet,” she said. 

“This report acknowledges the fact that people are waiting for hours in there. 

It acknowledges the fact that this is wrong. Everything they have been doing is wrong.

She thanked HIQA for listening to patients and is grateful to campaigners and the general public for their support.

“I can’t give up, we have to try and make it better. Now we can see light at the end of the tunnel, we are being listened to and we have been heard.” 

Delays of longer than six to eight hours from arriving at an emergency department lead to one extra death for every 82 admitted patients, a study in the medical journal The BMJ has found.

“The fact this was allowed to go on for so long is wrong, people were being patronised and told nothing was wrong.” 

“But for those politicians who still continue to bang the other drum, shame on them for not listening to us,” she said. “I spoke to politicians after Tommy died and some of them never came back to me.” 

Una Quish from Co Limerick has previously driven her son to Dublin hospital instead of UHL, having twice experienced 12-hour waits for help.

“I read the report”, she said. “And I’m delighted they saw the full extent of it. 

Hopefully, this will mean a major improvement now.

Independent councillor for Nenagh in Tipperary Seamus Morris said the hospital was not funded to expand after services in smaller local hospitals were reduced in 2009 and the report bears this out.

“It is clearly unsafe,” he said. “This is management’s fault, they are playing with people’s lives. People in the midwest have no faith in the health services.”