Tuesday 21 January 2020

Grandmother slams 'Third World' conditions as sick babies on trollies

Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital at Crumlin has come under scrutiny after a visit from grandmother Anne McCabe. Photo: Garrett White
Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital at Crumlin has come under scrutiny after a visit from grandmother Anne McCabe. Photo: Garrett White

A grandmother has described Crumlin Children's Hospital as "Third World" because of chronic overcrowding, vomiting children and staff "being worked to death".

Anne McCabe, from Naas, Co Kildare, said her adult daughter had spent six days on and off at Crumlin, trying to get her six-month-old treatment for a rash, tummy ache and signs of infection.

Ms McCabe said that to see her own daughter standing holding her granddaughter while children were being sick nearby and infants waited on trolleys had left her "traumatised".


In a move to highlight the plight of children visiting the hospital - and the parents and staff - Ms McCabe said: "My granddaughter got sick a week ago and we brought her to Crumlin Children's Hospital.

"What I saw there has left me completely traumatised. I saw six and four-week-old babies on trolleys in corridors, children vomiting all over the place, a huge crowd in the waiting area.

"The staff are run off their feet. They're being worked to death. My granddaughter went back five times this week and again tonight.

"But it was the last straw. They've driven to Portlaoise, where my other daughter lives, to see whether the child can be seen there.

"My daughter and her husband are exhausted. They've been at Crumlin each day for between 12 and 15 hours.

"The staff are amazing, but there aren't enough of them and they don't have enough beds.

"I've never seen anything like this. It's like Third World conditions.

"The children were all cry- ing. They're not being seen quickly enough and we were worried about the spread of infection.

"I'm angry as a grandmother, in a so-called civilised society where they're treating children like this.

"My dog would be treated better. A little boy had broken his arm badly in two places. He was snow white with pain. He wasn't seen for hours.

"It's not good enough. I've never spoken to the media, but I'm so angry at the treatment of my granddaughter and all the other children, I felt I had no choice but to highlight this, for all their sakes."

Fine Gael TD for Dublin Bay south, Kate O'Connell, also highlighted conditions at Our Lady's Children's Hospital.

She told an Oireachtas Committee on Health last Wednesday that she had visited Crumlin emergency department with her child on a Sunday evening and witnessed "shocking" conditions.

"It's wholly unacceptable to have in a waiting room vomiting babies, breastfeeding mothers, head-injury children, broken-arm children, all in the one mix," she said.

Ms O'Connell added that she had witnessed "very stressed" staff and was anxious she would be recognised as a politician and "lynched" by other parents.

Ms McCabe echoed Ms O'Connell's observations, saying: "It's grim when you see young parents with little babies on trolleys waiting.

"My granddaughter now has breathing problems, so I hope she's seen soon in Portlaoise, but my daughter shouldn't have to leave Dublin to be seen miles away. It's not right."

A Children's Health Ireland (CHI) spokesman said: "We sincerely regret the experience this family had when attending CHI at Crumlin.

"The children's hospitals are extremely busy managing increased attendances to their EDs, which are putting a strain on the areas in ED, in which we see children and babies. This demonstrates the need for continued investment in the new children's hospital.

"The Children's Health Ireland cannot comment on individual cases.

Maintaining a client's confidentiality is not only an ethical requirement for CHI, it is also a legal requirement as defined in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

"CHI at Crumlin will follow up this family directly and apologise for their experience."

Meanwhile, Health Minister Simon Harris is expected to unveil a fresh package of measures this week - on top of the €26m winter initiative funding - amid harrowing testimony from patients enduring gruelling delays.


As part of the drastic measures, the €100 fee for attending a hospital minor injury unit is expected to be slashed by €25 as an incentive to patients to avoid A&E for less serious ailments and go to one of the 11 minor injury units instead.

Staff in injury units perform X-rays, reduce joint dislocations, apply plaster casts and treat wounds.

Mr Harris is also seeking extra funds to facilitate the opening of around 100 more beds, which doctors insist are crucial to free up space. Talks are under way between the National Treatment Purchase Fund and the HSE to deliver those beds.

Efforts are to be made to speed up the waiting time for patients who qualify for the Fair Deal nursing home scheme.

The waiting period is around a month, and cutting this would mean that patients who no longer need acute hospital care could be discharged to long-term care.

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