A LOCAL woman and her daughter endured what they described as a ‘Dickensian’ ordeal when they visited the K Doc service in Naas over the Christmas period. The woman said the health service in general was ‘a discrace and a shame’ after he daughter became ill on 23 December.
K Doc say the woman’s experience of long delays is down to staffing levels and while they would love to have more GPs and nurses on board they are just not available at the moment.
The woman tried to get an appointment with K Doc in Naas at 5pm on Saturday evening 23 December after her 20 year old daughter became ill. She was told that it would be 1am on Christmas Eve before she would be seen by a doctor.
When she arrived at the K-Doc centre in Naas at 12.15am on Christmas Eve she was appalled by what she saw.
“It was like the walking wounded,” the woman said. “Children were trying to sleep and about 60 people await seeing the doctor as I arrived with my ill daughter. After handing over €75 I was told that the 1am appointment was out the window. There were only two doctors on duty. At 3.30am we still hadn’t been seen by anybody. It is not just ridiculous but feels morally upsetting that in this day and age, Ireland and our health services, are an insult to our intelligence and our basic human rights,” the woman said.
“I spoke with one young mother was son has been vomiting all day. She was still there at 3.30am and she had a 12-hour shift to do in work from 8am on Christmas Eve morning.”
The woman and her daughter were finally scene almost 12 hours after she initially made contact with K Doc and they left the centre at 4.40am with one painkiller, one antibiotic and a prescription. By 7.45am her daughter was once again in severe pain.
“I phoned K Doc and I was 15th in the queue to be answered. I was told a nurse would ring me back. I waited an hour and there was no call. My daughter was in excruciating pain, so I decided to ring Tallaght Hospital and they said to take her there straight away. We were seen by a triage nurse within 15 minutes and a doctor within an hour. Two hours after my phone call to Naas the K Doc nurse rang me back. At that stage we were with the nurse in Tallaght. She said she didn’t blame us as it was mayhem again in Naas. My daughter was put on a drip, had a chest x ray and had swab tests and blood tests done. She was given painkillers intravenously. She was then diagnosed with mumps. We were allowed home at about 1.30 pm with a prescription for Diclofenac, Solpadine and anti-nausea tablets and amoxicillin. We came home, and she rested and by St Stephen’s Day she was feeling a bit better even though she was still very swollen.
“Why do I even expect an eight hour wait in accident and emergency as a given which is still unacceptable; but what we witnessed at K Doc on a Friday night on a Christmas weekend was unbelievable. This is a service that is meant to cover all of south Kildare and West Wicklow and people who are really unwell have to experience hours and hours of waiting, it is a really unbelievable lack of service. It also needs to be pointed out that during all this time there isn’t even a nurse on duty to take temperatures, children in particular are at risk of convulsions. It really feels not just frustrating but sad that this country has got to this state and I do feel we are going backwards. Who in their right mind thinks this is right?”
Newbridge GP Dr Brendan O’Shea, who works with K Doc said the woman’s experience is down to staffing levels. The former K Doc Medical Director and Director of the Post Graduate Resource Centre at the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) said: “17% of all newly qualified doctors leave Ireland to work and that means that in Ireland we have on average 64 doctors per 100,000 population. Kildare has 42 so we are below the national average and in countries like Canada and Scotland they have an average of 90 to 100 doctors per 100,000 population. In addition, it is difficult to recruit nurses to work in GP practices. I empathise with the experience of this woman. However I would say that in general waiting times at GP co-operatives are shorter than equivalent waiting times at emergency departments. GP co-operatives handle one million face to face consultations per year which range from medical, obstetric and psychiatric consultations and we are working as hard and as fast as we can. We would all like to have more GPs and general nurses, but they just aren’t there at the moment.”
The mother said she was saddened by her experience. “It just really saddens and angers me that in this day and age we as a country have not progressed at all in our health service. It’s just wrong and I feel compelled for my voice to be heard and for the excuses to stop and for people especially those who are at their most vulnerable should be looked after better. At Christmas we can embrace the Dickensian spirit but to have a health service, which is from the 1800s is a disgrace and a shame. Even Dickens would not have stood for this mess,” she added.