Compassionate Ireland: Woman left on trolley gives up, dies at home

Credit to Louise Rosengrave, writing in The Journal, for this horrifying story:

“A 67-YEAR-OLD cancer patient discharged herself from hospital due to overcrowding and died four days later, an inquest heard.

Elizabeth Leavy from Montpellier Road, Dublin 7 was left waiting on a hospital trolley for six hours.

“She was left in the hallway beside the bins. She was afraid, in pain, uncomfortable and she was hallucinating. She couldn’t stick it,” the woman’s daughter Joy Leavy said.”

Read the whole thing.

It’s not hard to sympathise with the woman’s decision. Anyone who has ever spent time in an Irish hospital, waiting in great pain for attention from doctors that never seems to come, will have had the thought cross their mind that if they’re going to die, they might as well go home and die in their own bed.

We spend €18.3billion annually on the health service. To put that in context, if you won a million euro every week on the national lottery, for the rest of your life, you would have to live for 351 years to accumulate €18.3billion. It’s a vast sum.

It’s really no wonder Kate O’Connell said she was embarrassed to attend Crumlin Hospital.

There are, at present, 11,660 beds in Irish public hospitals. This means that the Irish Government spends, per hospital bed, about €1.5million annually. One and a half million per bed. Now, obviously, a lot of that money goes on salaries and drugs, but it’s still an astonishing sum. The average nurse’s salary is just €40,000 – meaning that we’re spending the equivalent of 37 nurses for every single bed.

Where is the money going?

At election time, we will hear promises from all the main parties to spend more money on health care, but it’s impossible to look at the numbers and conclude that money is the problem.

Horror stories like this one aren’t unusual. Elizabeth Leavy could be any one of us – she’s not just a statistic, she was a person, who had lived and worked in this country for 67 years. She had every right to expect that when she was sick, she would be looked after. That she felt the need to leave the hospital, because she wasn’t being cared for, and go off to die at home, should shame every single politician – and one politician in particular.

We’re told, endlessly, that Ireland is a compassionate, caring country now. And yet it appears that when Mrs. Leavy left that hospital, not one arm of the state thought it might be an idea to follow up and check that she was well. To them, she was just a line in a spreadsheet, and the fact that she is now dead means little more than an embarrassing story in the papers.

True compassion – the kind the Minister for Health preaches about, endlessly, means caring for those amongst us who most need our care. 67 year old women with cancer are not the sexy cases, and they don’t agitate the passions of the kind of voter Fine Gael has spent the past few years cultivating, and as such it’s hard to conclude that they matter much.

But those people are our mothers, and our aunts, and our grandmothers, and wives, and friends. And this country is failing them, miserably. To the everlasting shame of Minister Harris.

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