JOANNE O'RIORDAN: Let’s put hospital corridor crisis to bed

WHETHER it be Cork or Crumlin, hospitals have made up probably 50% of my life since I was little.

Every six months, I visit for breathing tests, check-ups, or a chat with my paediatrician. Every time I go, there is an increase in patients left in the corridor.

How do the staff function at speed with beds in the corridor? What if there is an emergency in a ward? How do you get from A to B quickly when there are people lying in beds everywhere?

It’s a disgusting sight. Should I look these patients in the eye, salute them, or what?

One of my two proposals is inspired by the Swedish health service. In Sweden, I got food poisoning. I was advised to admit myself into hospital. After a few minutes of waiting, I was brought into a small, tidy room that had one bed, and space for my parents. It was a scary experience for me — in hospital in a foreign country. But the treatment was top quality.

When they found a bed for me, which took little time, the nurses and doctors were fantastic. They spoke English, guided us and helped us feel very comfortable. After I stayed a night, they decided I was fit enough to leave. But, instead of sending us back to our hotel, just in case I had a slip-up they sent me to a nearby hotel/hospital, where there were doctors and nurses on stand-by. The hotel was for patients recovering. It freed-up beds in the hospital without moving you off-site. I thought this was crafty.

In the hotel, there were loads of newborn babies with their parents. If the babies were born prematurely, instead of being cut off from normality in hospital, they were able to stay with their parents and mix with other, similar families. Also in the hotel, the food was pretty good and there was a buffet everyday.

Imagine how many beds we’d free-up if these hotels were an option. A person who is 90% fit can go to this comfortable, relaxing environment, and someone who needs a bed urgently is more likely to get it. The nurses would also be able to move around hospital corridors with less obstacles.

My other solution is to have smaller hospitals in each county. As much as I love the nurses and doctors and staff in Crumlin, I’d feel more at ease in my own county, or close by.

After my back surgery, it was hard to sit upright and I wanted to go home and see my friends, family, dogs and my turtle. The research shows you recover better at home. Come on, government, start thinking ‘outside the box’.


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