By David Raleigh
The Minister for Health has said he is "embarrassed and ashamed" after a grandfather who had suffered a brain haemorrhage died after lying on a trolley in a hospital corridor for 12 hours.
Eddie Moloney, 73, passed away beneath a blaring television in a crowded public ward at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) on October 9 last after being admitted the previous day.
His family had sought a private room to say their goodbyes but were told there was none available.
Mr Moloney, who was well known for his business Modesty clothes shop in Limerick, was left on a trolley next to an intoxicated patient, as his family watched him slip away. He wastransferred to a busy public ward the next day, where he died.
The Moloneys' awful experience was highlighted last night on RTE's The Big Picture: Ireland's Health Service.
After watching the segment, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar, who was a guest on the programme, said: "I'm embarrassed and ashamed anyone nearing their end of life (should go through that)."
Despite Mr Moloney's children going public to highlight the "lack of end of life care" their father experienced, UHL said it could not comment on any individual's case.
However, it said in a statement, it "regrets if any patient or their families has a poor experience".
"Where possible, a patient identified as being at the end of life is prioritised for a bed – preferably in a single room - and an End-of-Life Care section is built in to our bed booking systems to facilitate this," the statement said.
"Unfortunately, in a busy hospital environment where there are competing demands for single rooms (e.g. for infection prevention and control), this is not always possible."
Mr Moloney's heartbroken daughter, Joanne, said: "I don't want anyone else to go through what my father and our family went through."
"There was no privacy for dad when he was nearing the end of his life. It's the least that can be done for a human being."
"When he got to the hospital it was too late. They told us that he wouldn't wake up," she explained.
"He was brought into the A+E, and into a resuscitation room, but it was a Friday night and they were getting really busy, so he was moved out of there and left on a trolley in a corridor for over 12 hours."
"There were drunks falling around his trolley and pushing into me and my mum - a typical Friday night in the hospital," the mum of four said.
"They eventually got him into a public ward.
"Basically he was left there to die," she said.
"Then, there was a big rugby match on the television, and there was people cheering and clapping and things like that...while my father was dying."
"This is not about the staff or the hospital. It's about the system," Joanne said.
"People die in public at the hospital, and family members can't say goodbye in situations like that, you really can't."
"The irony of it... Dying and hospitals go hand in hand," she said.
"It would make sense to have at least one private (near end of life) room on every ward, or every floor, or...at least one room per hospital."
"I know there is huge issues with cutbacks, but one room per hospital isn't asking for much."
She praised the hospital for doing everything it could, under the circumstances, to ease the family's loss.
"The staff were amazing. The nurses got one of the porters to bring me a big comfy chair to sleep in as I hadn't slept in 40 hours."
"My only gripe is there is no place for anybody to go to die in dignity or in privacy," she said.