‘Indefensible’ that patients turned away from A&E, says senator

A senator has hit out at the Government after the emergency department of University Hospital Waterford (UHW) was forced to turn patients away due to overcrowding.

Local Sinn Féin councillor David Cullinane said it is unacceptable that patients are being turned away from the main hospital in the region.

His comments came after it emerged that last Tuesday evening, a call was made to ambulance control by emergency department consultant Brendan McCann, instructing them to divert patients to Wexford and Kilkenny after the emergency department at UHW reached full capacity. It is understood this order stayed in place until Wednesday at 6pm.

Although Mr Cullinane agreed with Mr McCann’s decision, he said it should never have happened in the first place: “What happened is unacceptable. The Government can’t just dismiss this as something that routinely happens in hospitals. It’s actually indefensible.

“I don’t think the HSE management or indeed the hospital management and certainly the minister can stand over what happened. They need to come out and clarify exactly what happened, what caused the problem, and how can they make sure that this doesn’t happen again in the future.”

He also voiced concerns about levels of consultants available in UHW as well as increasingly long waiting lists, a reduction in the number of nursing posts, and patients being diverted to Mullingar and Dublin.

“It is outrageous but these are the types of situations that are emerging because UHW is not able to meet the demand which is there and that is the simply reality. Until the Government faces up to that we’re going to have more of these situations.”

He added:

“If the situation gets worse, if we have these situations happening on a regular basis, if patients are not being seen in an appropriate time frame by a consultant and if people are being shipped off to places like Mullingar to be treated, I think people will come out onto the streets again and make their voices heard.”

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