‘Lack of A&E space did not force ambulance treatment’

A BUSY acute hospital last night disputed a claim that medical staff had to treat patients in ambulances yesterday because there was no room for them in the Accident and Emergency department.

The allegation was made by Labour’s Joe Costello who also claimed that a 73-year-old woman with heart and lung problems had been lying on a trolley in Dublin’s Mater Hospital since last Wednesday.

“On top of this, there are ambulances parked outside which are being used to treat patients who cannot get a bed or a trolley in the A&E unit. The entire situation is a mess,” he said.

A spokesperson for the hospital said it often happened that a number of ambulances arrived at the hospital at the same time and medical staff ensured that their condition of the patients was stabilised before being transferred to A&E,

While the spokesperson could not comment on the 73-year-old-woman, he pointed out that four days was the longest waiting time for patients with less serious conditions to be transferred to a hospital bed.

Meanwhile, hospital consultants represented by the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) have decided to suspend their strike action over medical indemnity cover for seven days.

They are still concerned that written proposals from the Department of Health do not reflect assurances given to them by the Tánaiste and Minister for Health, Mary Harney, when they met her last Thursday.

The consultants were due to withdraw all but emergency care next Monday, but have now decided to suspend notice for a week. This will allow the department to give further clarification about the State’s offer to support consultants left without malpractice cover by the British-based Medical Defence Union.

IMO consultant committee chairperson, Dr Christine O’Malley, said it was essential that the department conclusively addressed the concerns they raised during their meeting with the Tánaiste.

“It is essential that the opportunity is seized by the Department of Health and Children to conclusively address the concerns we raised at last week’s meeting and that a final and decisive set of proposals is prepared over the coming week to truly reflect the assurances given at last week’s meeting,” said Dr O’Malley.

Consultants represented by the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) called off their industrial action over a week ago after the department assured them that no consultant would be left uncovered for past incidents.

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