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Woman's heartache as terminally-ill partner waits 9 days for MRI

Caroline Wynne-Creamer and Patrick McAuley
Caroline Wynne-Creamer and Patrick McAuley

A terminal cancer patient who has two brain tumours spent nine days in hospital waiting for an MRI, despite being rushed to A&E with severe head pain.

Patrick McAuley spent 30 hours in A&E waiting to be admitted at University Hospital Limerick and spent a total of nine days waiting for his MRI.  

Coincidentally, he finally got his MRI less than two hours after his partner Caroline Wynne-Creamer went on the radio to complain about the situation. 

Caroline told the Sunday World she was “disgusted” by the way hospitals are run in this country. 

“He was on a trolley in the corridor for 30 hours before he got a bed. At no time was he given water to drink and because they ran out of dinners he had to have a sandwich for dinner,” she said. 

“Pat has a cancer called multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, and had two brain operations and a bone marrow transport, chemotherapy, radiation. He still has two tumours on the brain.”

She said to leave him in A&E for so long and then leave him waiting over a week for the MRI given his condition was disgraceful. 

“Myself and Patrick were both diagnosed with cancer four years ago within four weeks of each other. I had breast cancer and had a mastectomy and went through my chemo and radiation with Pat. 

“I’m in remission now. Patrick was told he has seven years when he was diagnosed four years ago. Time could be running out. Time is precious.”

She told how Patrick was given a cat scan when admitted to the hospital and a shadow showed up. 

“There was a new spot on the brain, but they needed an MRI to tell what it was. Straight away we were worried, but we wouldn’t know till the MRI was done. Every day all you could hear was ‘he’s on the list’. 

“He got so fed up one day he went to the MRI unit himself from his ward and asked where he was on the list. To go into hospital with severe headaches with his history is very worrying.”

Doctors kept telling them that there was only one MRI machine and only certain staff could use it. Frustrated by the delay, Caroline contacted local radio station Tipp FM on Wednesday – eight days after Pat was taken to hospital – to complain of the delay. 

Patrick was waiting 204 hours for his MRI scan before Caroline went on the radio, but within two hours of her radio appearance he was told he was getting the scan.

“I was on the radio at 10.10am on Tipp FM and at 11.55am Patrick rang me to say I’m going down for my MRI,” she said.

Caroline said she was disgusted and appalled by what happened to Patrick.  

“He’s sitting in a bed doing nothing. He could have been at home with me and they could have rang when they could fit him in. It’s disgraceful he was waiting so long with the history he has.

“There could have been a 90-year-old who could have been in that bed.”

Thankfully, the MRI scan eventually revealed the shadow was nothing serious and may have been related to shingles. Pat was released from hospital on Thursday evening.

Caroline said there were several other issues which paint a bleak picture of the health service in Ireland in 2016. 

“In the first ward he was in the blanket was so thin. His mattress was a thin as a paper plate. He had no locker, no bin, nothing in his room. It was worse than a prison cell.

In the ward he was in, there were no working taps on one of the sinks. The bathroom is freezing, there’s no stopper in the sink to have a shave properly. The hygiene is terrible. There are so many things. I can’t fault the nurses, they’re doing their best, but the system is not working.

“If there’s going to be an improvement in our health service we need more people to speak up about these things. They’re happening to patients all across the country.”

A spokesman for University Limerick Hospitals (ULH) said an investigation into the incident is underway. 

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation recently described UHL as “one of the worst in the country” and one of the “least effective” when dealing with overcrowding.