‘Surely we can afford people some dignity’ – Mother (93) left on a chair in A&E for a day


Dee took this picture of her mother in A&E and shared it on Facebook
Dee took this picture of her mother in A&E and shared it on Facebook

Gladys Cummins (93) went to Dublin’s Mater A&E on Monday afternoon. 25 hours later she was still in a chair waiting to be seen, according to her daughter.

“I’m starting to lose my faith in politics,” said Dee, speaking to RTE Radio One’s Liveline.

“My mother went into A&E at 2.15pm. She was left in a chair for 25 hours. She was moved from a wheelchair to the chair and back onto a wheelchair again, as she’s not mobile.

“We wrapped blankets around her because she was in a corridor and there was a draught. Every time the paramedics came in there was a draught.”

Dee and her two siblings waited with their mother while she was in A&E, as they didn’t feel it was ever safe to leave her.

“She doesn’t have dementia but at that time she was in and out of lucidity. She was fretting over the fact she wanted to get home, saying ‘why am I here’. It was tough to calm her. We couldn’t leave her.”

According to Dee, there were quite a lot of elderly people there and they weren’t being afforded much dignity so she took a photograph of her mother in the chair and put it on Facebook.

“I felt people needed to see this,” explained Dee.

“We talk a lot, between housing and healthcare, but nobody does anything. Rather than be a procrastinator and do nothing, I got up and took a photograph, put in on Facebook and asked people to share it. I thought of a Facebook page called the Long Wait. People can put photos of their relatives on this page and the amount of time they spent waiting to see a medic.

“I was hoping Simon Harris might do something about it. We know there is no easy solution but surely we can afford people some dignity when they are in an extremely vulnerable position.”

Since putting up the photo of her mother, Dee has had a flood of responses from people who have had a similar situation with a loved one.

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“One girl told me her father died in a corridor in A&E and she screamed for him to get some dignity,” said Dee. “There are hundreds of thousands of similar stories. The government is not up to the job obviously. It’s not just Simon Harris. We have a Taoiseach and Tanaiste and Minister for Finance, in control of the purse. It’s about them all.

“I think it’s bureaucracy,” continued Dee. “The monies are going into administration costs more than the feet on the ground in the hospital. My mother was in a newly built A&E. It’s not big enough. They are still sitting on chairs in corridors.”

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