After an hour and a half, during which time a few more people had arrived but nobody before me had been seen, a nurse came in and announced that there was a road traffic accident coming in and that would add a couple of hours onto existing waiting times. Shortly after that an ambulance rushed in with a cardiac arrest.
I realised that as my foot was not critical I could end up spending more than 12 hours in there and end up on Joe Duffy sighing out my story, so I opted to leave. I had to come back to Dublin anyway.
On the way out I informed admissions that I was leaving and asked for my €66 back. Unfortunately they couldn't give it to me because they didn't have a "system in place" for refunds. After a little back and forthing they suggested I write a letter to the hospital and see if something could be done. Off I limped without my refund.
Back in Dublin I went into VHI Swiftcare where I consulted with a Nurse, then a Doctor, was x-rayed, bandaged and seen off faster than I could drink my complimentary cappuccino. The bill was €205 which included the crutches (€25) that I get to keep, just in case anyone out there is ever looking for a pair.
I rang up Patient Accounts in Tralee Hospital and enquired after my €66, (on principle I don't think they should get to keep it)
I explained my story to the accounts person.
So you want a refund?
Why didn't you just get it when you were there?
I asked for one but they refused, told me to write a letter.
Who did you ask?
Admission, the people I paid.
Did you see a doctor?
No, blah blah hour and a half blah blah emergency blah blah decided to leave.
So why didn't they give you your money back?
I don't know, they said they didn't have a system.
They said they...
Okay Okay, we'll have to post it back to you, what are your details again....
Ultimately, the point is that people employed by the hospital, dealing with patients, in pain, do not know what they are doing. (Surprised?)
And so it was that the last whisper of faith I had in the Irish Public Healthcare system has now evaporated. It is a truly shameful, disorganised, confused, filthy shambles. If you plan on getting sick, leave the country now.