‘The Galway emergency department was packed as tightly as sardines in a tin’

Our man Frank on first-hand experience of the pressures on the health service; Animal cruelty; Mouth-watering money matters… and a great weekend for Creggs RFC

A couple of weeks ago I told readers how the decisions to close the A&E departments in Ennis, Nenagh and Roscommon hospitals (among others) had come back to haunt us, with the inevitable result that our health service is completely unable to deal with the numbers of sick people that are turning up at our hospital doors.

However, as I wrote that piece little did I think that I was about to experience first-hand the chaos that is currently taking place in every emergency department across the country.

It was on Tuesday morning of last week, at a time when the whole place was in the grip of hard frost and freezing fog, that I set off to the old Regional Hospital in Galway, bringing with me a family member who had woken up in excruciating pain. We hit the slippy road shortly after 7.30 am and arrived safely at the hospital at around 9.15 am. As always, parking was a nightmare. After depositing my patient at the ED, I spent the guts of half an hour looking for a space to park the car.

When I arrived into the waiting room I was relieved to see that it wasn’t overcrowded. I said to myself that maybe it wouldn’t be too bad today – I was of course completely wrong. Before too long the place was packed as tightly as sardines in a tin. There were people everywhere – some even waiting outside – but as always, the staff were perfectly courteous and professional, and did their utmost best under the most extreme pressure.

My family member got seen fairly quickly and, being in severe pain, we hoped that maybe a trolley would be made available to try to provide them with some comfort. Sadly, there was nothing available, so it was a case of sitting on one of the hard chairs until something could be found. Thankfully, at about 12 midnight, after 14 hours of sitting on the chair, a bed (remarkably) came available. As I write this on Monday morning, six days after our arrival at the ED, we have just done the repeat journey and our patient is safely back in Crosswell.

As we reflect on the experience, the overriding feeling is that the staff are being hugely stressed under the pressure of the enormous numbers that are presenting themselves at our emergency departments. There can be no doubt that the health service is almost at breaking point.

However, on the plus side, the doctors and nurses are, as a rule, remarkably resilient. Even though their working conditions are in some instances atrocious, they continue to provide the best possible care to their patients. All they need is the support of the Government and for the necessary resources to be put in place. However, as that has been the case for decades, we won’t hold our breath.

Video exposed despicable animal cruelty

I am not a fan of social media, as oftentimes videos emerge that are almost an invasion of people’s privacy. Usually, they feature someone – probably the worse for wear after consuming too much alcohol and unaware that their actions are being filmed – making a complete ass of themselves. No harm in that, until some so-called friend posts it all over the Internet and causes untold embarrassment and shame to the poor idiot.

Thank God there was no social media back in our day or we too would have had plenty of reasons to want a hole to open up and swallow us.

However, sometimes a video can actually have a positive effect. This week a video of appalling cruelty to a donkey, near Edenderry, has led to a Garda operation which saw seven donkeys being seized by the authorities. The video, which showed a white donkey being dragged along behind a car, with a rope tied around its neck, is both horrifying and upsetting. It begs the question how anyone could do such a terrible thing.

Thankfully it led to the donkey in question and six others being rescued from whoever inflicted such cruelty on an innocent animal. I can only hope the Gardaí can prosecute the perpetrator and make him or her pay dearly for their despicable act.

It has often been said that people who mind and look after animals, and treat them with kindness, are usually good to humans as well. I wonder what sort of person did that to a helpless donkey?

Money madness!

We have always been told that your health is your wealth – and the older you get the more you realise that it’s true – but sometimes something will catch your eye that makes you wonder what it must be like to be really wealthy.

For some reason it seems to me Russia has a lot of the wealthiest people on the planet. Long before he decided he wanted to take over Ukraine, there was a rumour over in Cabo Roig in Spain (which we sometimes manage to get to) that Putin himself owned a mansion overlooking the marina.

It goes without saying that the mansion is safe from the prying eyes of a curious Irishman (and everyone else), but local rumour has it that it can only be described as palatial, and that no expense was spared on its refurbishment.

Anyway, as I looked out on my newly-updated 131 Passat (only because my 08 one took a terminal illness) I thought of the most expensive private jet in the world, owned by one of Putin’s best mates, Alisher Burkhanovich Usmanov (I won’t be writing that again, so you’d better remember it now). I wondered how one man could have so much wealth. His Airbus A340-300 cost him €228 million. He then spent a mouth-watering €160 million doing up the interior. Apparently he did up a few bedrooms and put in a 20-seater dining table!

The thought crossed my mind that if he had called me during my furniture days, I could probably have done him a better deal (at least on the table, that’s if he didn’t mind a bit of woodworm)! However, now that I’m fully retired, I suppose there’s no use thinking about such things.

All I can think about is the sad fact that with millions of people starving around the world, and as Putin continues to inflict untold hardship and misery on the Ukrainian population, his mate can be flying round the place in his almost €400 million jet. It’s a strange world!

And finally…

In Creggs, we have just had a rugby weekend that has to rank with any of those we have enjoyed since our club’s  foundation way back in the 1970s.

On Saturday night, in front of the biggest crowd I have ever seen at a match in Creggs, our first team finally got the better (after trying for 30 years) of the holders of the Junior Cup, the formidable Connemara All Blacks, our lads winning a rip-roaring quarter-final by 14 points to 12.

Then on Sunday, in front of another great crowd, the seconds won their semi-final with a comprehensive win over Our Lady’s Boys Club from Galway. So both teams have something to look forward to. Of course, as we all know, nothing is won until you actually have the cup (although Kilmacud Crokes might yet find that even that can sometimes be wrong).

Anyway, it was an amazing weekend, and the buzz around the village reminded me of old times. What it will be like if we win a cup or two I can only imagine. I’m not keen to mention any individuals, but it was a special day for Luke Meehan, who, having missed the last 16 months through injury, marked his comeback with not one, but two tries. He told me to write that…so if you see him, make sure he gets to read it! You owe me a pint, Luke!