Against the backdrop of local fury over the Irish government's decision to close the accident and emergency unit at Roscommon Hospital, artist Robert Ballagh has described the Irish health service as "being based entirely on queues," this following the sudden death of his wife, Betty, earlier this year.
Betty died in a bathroom in St. Joseph's hospital in Raheny, Dublin and five months on the Ballagh family still does not know the cause of her death.
In an RTE radio interview, Ballagh outlined a battle to get his wife admitted to the emergency room at Beaumount Hospital after she became unwell with a stomach complaint.
She was left for over 16 hours on a chair in "considerable discomfort" before she was moved to a trolley. She was later moved to St. Patrick's ward in Beaumont which Ballagh, in the interview, described as a holding ward "designed to massage the trolley figures."
After a week, his wife was discharged despite being in a very weak state.
"How have we ended up with a health system that treats people so badly? Ballagh asked in the interview
After a day at home, Betty was in serious discomfort and after frantic calls from Ballagh, she was admitted to St. Joseph's Hospital in Raheny. She was discovered dead by staff in a toilet during the night.
"We need to make the system more humane. Our entire hospital system is based on queues," Ballagh said on the John Murray Show.
He said that the delay with the coroner's investigation was due to the state labs being massively overloaded. "Tissue samples etc are being sent to private hospitals in the U.S. for analysis due to the backlog" he told Murray.
Robert Ballagh and his children still don't know how Betty died. They are still waiting for the coroner's report, the Irish Independent reported.