The daughter of a women with cancer has lashed out at the Minister for Health for failing to provide sufficient out-of-hours services, after she was forced to administer her mother’s treatment herself.
Maureen Marron (76) has small cell lung cancer and is under the care of the Wicklow Palliative Care Team.
Unable to secure the required medical help, Ms Toibin was forced to rely on acquaintance in healthcare to “steal” a device to drain her mother’s bladder. In an open letter she wrote to Simon Harris, Ms Toibin accused him of “actively preventing palliative care from working successfully by not providing a full time care service and coupling it with such a pathetic out of hours GP service”.
In her letter to Harris, she detailed how she was forced to improvise her own necessary healthcare for her mother. On Thursday the 28th of December, her mother became quite unwell and was visited by a member of the palliative team who organised a prescription for her with her GP.
After her mother’s morphine prescription was increased on Friday, December 29th the palliative team informed Ms Toibin that they would not be available again until the following Tuesday.
On Saturday the 30th, her mother began to vomit blood but could not secure a home visit after phoning the out-of-hours GP service, due to demand.
Her mother had not urinated in 24 hours due to her illness, and Ms Toibin was advised by a nurse acquaintance that a doctor would be required to insert a device to drain her bladder. She was lucky enough to have a friend working in the medical field that was willing to get her the necessary equipment to drain the bladder.
Ms Toibin asked the minister “For anybody lucky enough to have an acquaintance prepared to risk their job by stealing a catheter kit from their place of work but don’t have anybody to call upon to insert it what do you suggest that they do?”.
A GP eventually arrived at the Toibin household early on Sunday morning, but Ms Toibin believes this was only because she threatened with legal action and bringing the story to the press. Her mother had been vomiting blood for 16 hours. The doctor gave her an injection and then left. Ms Toibin said in her letter, “my mother is so overwhelmed she is crying and asked me to get into bed and hold her hand”.
The following evening, Monday, a different doctor refused to inject her for nausea as she had not vomited for some time merely gave Ms Toibin a vial, syringe and needle and told her to it herself.
In a statement, the Department of Health said Mr Harris was “very concerned” by issues she raised and by the stress her family experienced.
“The Minister has been in contact with Ms Tobin and has sought a full report from the HSE on what happened,” it said.