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“Only a matter of time” before Tallaght Hospital has another death due to overcrowding

Dr Jim Gray, an emergency medicine consultant in Tallaght Hospital, has warned the Health Minister that it is “only a matter of time” before a patient dies due to the level of overcrowding in the hospital.

The email to Simon Harris was written on Wednesday while 21 patients were on trollies in the emergency department at the same time.

“This level of overcrowding of admitted boarders is never acceptable and is dangerous,” Mr Gray said in his email. He also the point that hospital overcrowding would be regarded in years to come as a scandal on a par with clerical abuse and the Magdalene laundries. He outlined a range of issues that had emerged at the hospital over the previous 48 hours.

“Fourteen patients are languishing 24 hours or more in the emergency department, two for two days or more.

“Ten patients are occupying cubicles that deny ambulance arrivals and waiting room patients access into the service.

“Seven patients are occupying conduits/corridors which are clearly not designated patient areas and are an evacuation hazard.

“Six patients needed isolation for infection and only one was in an isolation room. The oldest patient is 77 years of age.”

“It is only a matter of time before we have our next untimely trolley-related death here due to overcrowding.

“Admitted patients have very poor or no dignity, privacy, confidentiality, suffer constant light and regular noise resulting in sleep deprivation which amounts to sensory torture, are offered poor standards of infection control and constitute an evacuation hazard, especially when warehoused on conduits and corridors.

“The resultant entry block into the ED is highly dangerous as undifferentiated patients are left on ambulance trolleys or in the waiting room in a ‘limbo’.

“We have a five-hour wait to get to see an ED doctor currently.

“There is no space to see them due to the overcrowding situation.”

According to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, nationwide there were 417 patients waiting for admission to hospital yesterday morning, with 29 on trolleys and in wards in Tallaght.