Pat Kenny takes Stephen Donnelly to task over daughter’s ‘dreadful’ experience in Dublin A&E

Radio presenter Pat Kenny has shared details of what he described as his daughter’s “dreadful experience” at the emergency department in Dublin’s St Vincent’s Hospital.

r Kenny said he and his wife Cathy brought one of their two daughters to the hospital after she “banged her head” and was “knocked out for several minutes”. 

The Newstalk host raised the matter with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly while discussing the broad range of issues facing the heath service, including the pressure which hospitals are expected to come under this winter.

“My own dreadful experience at St Vincent’s Hospital with my daughter in the summer doesn’t give me great optimism for how things will be in the winter,” Mr Kenny said.

“My concern was obviously with my daughter who fell, banged her head, blood flowing, was knocked out for several minutes and right throughout the night was not checked for vital signs.

“They said ‘you’ll get a scan in the morning’, by which time, happily she was not, but she could have been dead with a bleed on the brain… Then a doctor has the effrontery to say to my wife, when the bandage was taken off, and my daughter said ‘please put it back on because it eases the discomfort’, he handed her a fresh bandage and says ‘do it yourself’.

In response Minster Donnelly said: “That doesn’t sound right.” 

“But that’s people who have run out of empathy, to be quite honest, run out of road, run out of empathy,” Mr Kenny added.

To tackle wait times in emergency departments, Minister Donnelly said the heath service is recruiting more A&E consultants. 

“One of the things I’ve experienced when I’ve gone into the emergency departments at 11 or 12 o’clock at night, you have a lot of patients on trolleys, a lot of patients waiting on a decision as to whether they’re to be admitted, or whether they can be sent home, but there’s no consultants there because we historically haven’t had enough emergency medicine consultants,” he said. 

“So I’ve sanctioned recently an extra 51 consultants to go into hospitals around the country. That’s a start, we need to go further than that… It’s all well and good that there is a junior doctor there and they’re working very hard, but ultimately, it’s the emergency medicine consultants can make those decisions better than anybody.”

In a statement released to, a spokesperson for St Vincent’s Hospital said: “SVUH does not comment on individual patients to third parties. We are committed to providing the highest standards of care to our patients so that we can achieve the best health outcomes for the patient.

“We are the only Level 4 hospital in Ireland to undergo a three-yearly independent assessment by the international accreditation body JCI of the quality of care that we provide; and we encourage all patients to provide feedback directly to us so we can continuously improve the services in our hospital.

“We take every complaint very seriously and our patient advice and support team is dedicated to supporting patients who are unhappy with their experience of care in our hospital.”


Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.

Minister Donnelly said the HSE will also begin its “big push” to tackle the ‘twindemic’ with the launch of the flu vaccine and third Covid-19 vaccines for anyone aged 65 years and above and people who are immunocompromised.

“So, the next big push now Monday week, October 3. The flu vaccine is free for an awful lot of groups, the COVID vaccine is free for everybody and really my ask and the ask of our public health workers is for everybody to go and get the COVID vaccine [and] get the flu vaccine,” he said.

“We need all healthcare workers to get the vaccine and there’s never been compulsory vaccination in Ireland and it’s not something that we are entertaining. There’s been a lot of work done hospital by hospital on getting the rates up and some hospitals, they’ve done extremely well. It has been rising quite a lot over the years. This year it’s more important than ever, because this year we’re facing a perfect storm.”

Minister Donnelly said Ireland’s “incredible” healthcare workers have been “battered and stressed” for two and half years and “it’s going to be a difficult winter” for them.

He said the Government’s position is that “all private” hospital capacity “needs to be used” if needed for public patients in the months ahead.

“There is a good relationship between the public and the private systems. What I reiterated to the HSE last night was we need to be using every private bed, every private MRI, DEXA scanner, X-ray, nursing home bed, community bed. This winter requires the mobilisation of the entire healthcare system, the public and the private system,” he added.

Meanwhile, he said the Government is awaiting the findings of a HSE review of the emergency hospital in Navan Hospital.

Minister Donnelly said the clinical team in our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda told him that the proposal to divert critically ill patients to the Louth hospital could not be facilitated given their current resources.

“I was never going to stand over was a situation whereby patient risk was simply transferred from one hospital to another because that doesn’t work for the patient,” he said.

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