Thursday, 15 October 2020
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
I wish to raise a matter which pertains to a constituent of mine who has passed away. He stayed in University Hospital Limerick and was accommodated on a trolley in the corridor. After he passed away, his family were charged €813 per night. I raised this matter with the Minister for Health, who referred it to the hospital. The hospital replied to say the inpatient and day case charges are applied based on section 55 of the Health Act 1970, as amended by the Health (Amendment) Act 2013. I looked at that Act and it defines charges in respect of single occupancy rooms, multiple occupancy rooms and where overnight accommodation was not provided. A corridor is not a room. I am sure that in his previous time as Taoiseach and in various ministries, the Tánaiste has necessarily had to travel for work and rooms have been booked for him. I doubt if he was ever offered a corridor to sleep in and if he was, I doubt his officials paid for a room. Can the Tánaiste confirm to this House that a corridor is not a room?
Today is pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day and I refer to the restrictions in place at our maternity hospitals. Women attending for ultrasounds and antenatal visits cannot attend accompanied by partners. For anybody to first see the heartbeat of one's child is a profound and moving moment and one which should be made available to them. I can only imagine what it must be like to be told there is no heartbeat, and to have to go through that alone is inhumane. I accept this is a time of a pandemic and that restrictions are necessary. Equally, humanity has to prevail. Likewise, with regard to visits during birth and, in particular, after the birth of a baby, there is no uniformity of approach across the State. University Maternity Hospital Limerick does not allow visits and I know the National Maternity Hospital just across Merrion Square is in a position to allow visits. I ask that some guidance be provided and a uniformity of approach be adopted across the State in that regard.