NURSES at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital got a shock on Christmas Day when a bearded man arrived at the emergency department bearing gifts.
Minister for Health Dr James Reilly paid a surprise visit to the A&E - and brought a box of chocolates for those nurses who spent their Christmas hard at work at one of the country’s busiest emergency departments.
Minister Reilly, who owns a country pile an hour from Limerick in Moneygall, told nurses he was in the area and it is understood he paid a visit to Galway University Hospital after his Limerick call to spread the Christmas cheer.
Minister Reilly angered Limerick nurses in October when he described their industrial action at the emergency department as “pointless” and a possible danger to patients.
But all was forgiven for at least one day, according to the INMO’s Limerick organiser Mary Fogarty.
“It was genuinely appreciated by the nursing staff who only got a couple of minutes notice that he was on the way. Of course if you are visiting anybody on Christmas Day, you can’t just arrive empty-handed.”
“And the nurses said there are former and current ministers living a lot closer than him who never called in on Christmas Day,” Ms Fogarty said.
“He said to the nurses that they could expect to see improvements in 2012 and he understood that they did not take the industrial action lightly,” she added.
Minister Reilly chose a good day to visit the A&E as December 25 was not especially busy.
But the holiday season in general had been a busy one in Dooradoyle, Ms Fogarty said. There had been 23 patients waiting on trolleys to be admitted on one day and a total of 17 on Tuesday of this week.