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07th Sep 2018

Caller tells Liveline that her 92-year-old mother was left sitting in a chair for over 24 hours in A&E

Dave Hanratty

Liveline 92-year-old woman Mater Hospital

“I’m starting to lose my faith in politics.”

In conversation on Liveline on RTÉ Radio 1 on Friday, a caller by the name of Dee told the story of how her 92-year-old mother Gladys was left waiting to be seen for 20 hours in Dublin’s Mater Hospital.

On Monday afternoon, Gladys sat in a chair with an ambulance blanket draped over her until finally being attended to by “overwhelmed” staff.

Gladys, who has been living in a nursing home since April, had been suffering from a kidney infection and began to show signs of psychosis, which led to fears that she may have developed sepsis.

Dee says that her mother arrived with her sister at the Mater Hospital at approximately 2.15pm on Monday afternoon, where she remained in the A&E department for roughly 25 hours.

“She swapped from a wheelchair to a chair to a wheelchair  and back to a chair because she’s not mobile,” Dee told host Philip Boucher-Hayes.

“She can can stand, but she’s not mobile. She spent all of her time between a wheelchair and a chair, and the reason we had all of the blankets around her was because she was in a corner of a corridor and there was a draught,” added Dee.

“Every time the paramedics came in, the automatic doors would open and a draught would come in, naturally, and so we had to wrap her up as much as we could.”

Dee released a photograph of her mother on social media, an image that Boucher-Hayes condemned as “pathetic” in reference to the situation.

Gladys A&E

“Your only response to it is to say; ‘Oh god, how pathetic does that look?'” offered the Liveline host.

Dee noted that her mother doesn’t have dementia and was aware of the situation “during a lot of lucid moments” but she was in and out of consciousness due to her symptoms.

“She’d start fretting over the fact that she wanted to get home,” recalls Dee. “‘Why am I here? Why am I here?’ and she would have quite manic episodes. It was quite tough trying to calm her, and so we had to stay with her the whole time.”

Dee went on to explain that she released the photograph of Gladys in a bid to raise awareness of overcrowded hospitals.

“I was sitting there looking around and there were quite a lot of elderly people, and they weren’t being afforded much dignity, my mother being one of them.

“I felt that people needed to see this. The public need to see it because we talk a lot. People procrastinate a lot and they discuss things – and there are so many things at the moment between housing and healthcare, but people talk and nobody does anything.”

Dee notes that she was hoping that Minister for Health Simon Harris might see the image of her mother and get involved. Asked by Boucher-Hayes if the political system can respond to her scenario, she was quickly forthright.

“No. I think they can, but they don’t. We all know that there are no easy solutions, but surely we can afford people some dignity when they are in an extremely vulnerable situation like that.”

She went on to express frustration with politicians who put this problem on the long finger, offering promises that are ultimately not realised.

“This is just one story,” says Dee. “There are hundreds of thousands of stories out there. Our government are not up to the job.”

Gladys is now on the geriatric ward and is currently waiting on results.

You can listen to the full interview below.

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