NOT satisfied with the government’s insistence that they have all the solutions to the HSE’s A&E problems, WWN’s investigative reporter Ann Trope went undercover posing as a trolley to get some real answers.
Mere moments into putting myself in place as a trolley I could easily see that such is the overcrowding in the country’s A&E departments, there simply wasn’t any room for the Minister for Health to even set one foot in any A&E and see the situation for himself firsthand.
Shortly after placing myself in a crowded corridor a 78-year-old man was placed on me and left alone for a few hours as staff rushed around helplessly to meet the demands of the sick and infirm.
Despite the strain on my back and the constant coughing and gentle sobbing, these idle hours allowed me the time to read much of the Winter Initiative plan drafted by the HSE to deal with any potential overcrowding in hospitals over the winter months.
The HSE highlighted in their report that a number of factors could occur which would result in a serious stretching of services and A&E department overcrowding. However, according to freedom of information requests by fellow journalist Ken Foxe, an internal Department of Health email requested that such warnings be placed at the back of the report so as to allow a positive spin at the start of the document.
It was at this point the 78-year-old man lying on me was asked by a frazzled nurse if he was alright.
Frankly, 9-hours into my investigative work I was becoming bored so I turned to the internet to help amuse and distract me in equal measure. I had a good laugh at that old Fine Gael election poster on which Enda Kenny said he would bring an end to the scandal of A&E trolleys. I showed the elderly man on top of me the picture and my how he laughed. But that only brought on a coughing fit. I felt guilty, only a fraction of the guilt I’m sure Enda feels for having said that some 6 years ago.
12 hours in and a total of 40 opposition TDs had made the journey into the hospital to take a quick photo of the overcrowding for their social media accounts and carrying the weight of this flu-riddled elderly man was beginning to take its toll. He had become cold and rigid, and I began to worry he may pass his flu onto me.
I lay the man down in the corridor and thought of alerting staff to his presence as he appeared to have spotted breathing, but I checked the Minister for Health’s Twitter feed first and he said it was all under control so I just went straight home instead.
While the emergency department was busy, I felt considerable shame at realising I had gone in their looking for a scandal and after 12 hours I couldn’t really find anything out of the ordinary.