The newly-established Western Health and Social Care Trust is to review patient procedure at the Accident & Emergency Department at the Erne Hospital, including processing patients waiting to be seen as well as doctor-patient attitudes and patient discharge.
This week, the family of a 65-year old, mentally ill patient who was told by a doctor in the A & E Department of the Erne Hospital to 'forget about the past' when he was brought there by PSNI officers after they had found him with a rope around his neck, have criticised the doctor's attitude.
The man immediately walked out of the hospital and was shortly afterwards found by his brother near the Johnston Bridge near the hospital.
His brother told the 'Herald' that the Police had been alerted by A & E staff that his brother had walked out. Officers then brought his brother to Enniskillen Police Station where he was seen by another doctor before being taken in a Police car to the T & F Hospital in Omagh.
"He had been in the T & F four weeks previously, and the (Erne) hospital would have been aware of his mental health because he was seen in Casualty on that occasion also. He was sitting on the bridge and the Police brought him there, and stayed with him till he was taken to Omagh by ambulance".
Ironically, the man walked out of his brother's home after calling there, emotionally upset, at about 6.15 last Saturday morning.
"I went upstairs and he had asked if it was OK to make tea, and the next thing he walked out the front door and started walking out the road. I got on his mobile and he told me he had a rope around is neck. He was very upset. I then rang the Police and they got to him just in time and brought him to the Erne".
While his brother was being interviewed in A & E, he went to the hospital canteen and, it was after he returned to Casualty he was told by nursing staff that his brother had walked out of the hospital.
"I went looking for him and found him sitting on the river bank at Johnston Bridge. I spoke to him and it was then he told me that he had been speaking to the doctor, that he was emotionally upset about things in his past and that the doctor had told him to forget about the past and that that was why he left.
"The Police weren't happy at all. They brought my brother down to the Police Station where he was seen by a different doctor who was very good to him. They then delivered him to the T & F'.
A senior member of staff for the hospital said he fully sympathised with the family, and he invited them to lodge a formal complaint to the A & E Consultant Physician at the Erne Hospital.
"Their complaint will be investigated. I can assure them of that. If what they say is true, then, in my view, it's unfair to tell a vulnerable patient what their brother was told".
The incident follows the recent experience of a 91-year old Belleek woman who was discharged from the hospital's A & E Department at midnight by taxi, despite the fact she lives alone in a rural area.
Tommy Gallagher, MLA, who also resides in Belleek described the way her case was handled as, 'appalling and unacceptable'.
"She was sent 25 miles to her rural home.
The hospital didn't even provide an ambulance but, instead, put her in a wheelchair to travel by private taxi. She was dropped off after 12:30am.This is no way for a caring service to treat anyone, never mind an elderly lady in poor health".
Following resultant media publicity, the Western Health and Social Care Trust carried out an investigation into the circumstances of the woman's discharge.
The Trust, in a statement, insisted that the decision to aid the patient to get back to familiar surroundings as quickly and easily as possible was considered the best option.
Raymond McCartney, the Trust's Head of Operations, said he felt it was important to provide a response on the situation in general, 'given that the report appears to have called into question the commitment and dedication of staff providing services'.
"I can say with confidence that our staff strive to provide the highest standards of care to all our patients and clients, and the actions taken in this case were also taken with the best interests of the patient in mind.
"Having been appropriately assessed and treated, it was felt that a return home to a familiar environment would mean the least disruption to the patient's normal routine and was compatible with her own wishes. Whilst an ambulance was called to provide transport home, this was not deemed an urgent case.
"By 11pm, it was clear an ambulance would not be available and it was decided that one of the hospital contracted taxis would be the best option."
Mr McCartney suggested that a stay overnight in hospital was a significant event in anyone's life.
Individual circumstances, and the patient's own wishes had to be taken into account in reaching such a decision. In this case, the decision to aid the patient to get back to familiar surroundings as quickly and easily as possible was considered the best option".
He commended and thanked the medical and nursing staff at the Erne Hospital, and across the Trust, who, he said, 'strive daily to provide the highest standards of care to our patients, including the frail and elderly'.
However, he added that the Trust would be using this latest opportunity to review its arrangements for discharge of its elderly patients after 6.00pm and to ensure that, while taking into account patient choice, that staff were sensitive to transport issues, carer support and distance from the Unit.
Mr Gallagher, meanwhile, said the level of commitment of the hospital staff was never in question.
"Indeed, I am very well aware of the commitment and care provide by the staff at Enniskillen hospital. This issue is about patient discharge because the present policy that gave rise to such unfortunate circumstances is flawed.
"Indeed, in recent days, I have been contacted by others who have had grounds for concern to do with the discharge policy for elderly patients".
He welcomed the recognition in the Trust's statement that the present policy would be reviewed, and he said he would be asking the Trust to widen the review so that it would include all discharges of elderly patients.
Responding to complaints of patient unease at being seen at A & E on a 'first come, first served; basis outside normal working hours, a Trust spokeswoman, in a statement, pointed to reduced clerical support at the Erne's A&E Unit after 8pm to reflect the expected reduced levels of activity within the unit at night.
"The new Trust has been made aware of concerns and will review the situation", she added.
Copy of Fermanagh Herald News Archive.
Link to Fermanagh Herald Newspapers.
HEALTHCARE TRUST TO
Publication Fermanagh Herald
Date Wed, Apr 25, 2007
BY MICHAEL BRESLIN
Disclaimer: Content on this site is placed Without – Prejudice.
Search this site.
Click Here to email Us if you think we can help you in any way.