HC Deb 26 June 1899 vol 73 cc604-5

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the proceedings at the Local Government Board inquiry held in Armagh Workhouse on the 31st ult., at which evidence disclosed that a pauper inmate, named Catherine M'Kenna, who was admitted on the 23rd ult., was immediately thereafter, owing to ill-health, removed to the infirmary, and that the priest was sent for and came the same night; for what reason a doctor was not then sent for; whether he is aware that this woman was kept lying on a straw bed on the floor; that there was no bedstead nor any fireplace in the ward; and that there was only one nurse in the ward; and whether an inquiry will be made with the view of having a sufficient number of qualified nurses here, and proper fittings and appliances for the accommodation of the destitute paupers coming to Armagh Workhouse.


The facts appear to be generally as stated in the first paragraph. The woman was admitted to the workhouse on the 23rd March, and was immediately sent to the infirmary or medical hospital. The matron, however, who was at the time acting for the master, absent on leave, did not deem it necessary to send for the medical officer to see her. On the 24th March she was ordered by the acting medical officer to be removed to the infirm wards, which are not under the doctor's care, but this order was not carried out, and the woman was removed to a ward which is called the "Auxiliary Infirm Ward," which is described by the medical inspector who held the inquiry as being quite unfit for infirm people to sleep in, in its present condition, as it is without proper ventilation, and the inmates are only provided with straw ticks placed on a raised part of the floor. The medical inspector has pointed out that from the time of Catherine McKenna's admission she did not receive the care and treatment which the gravity of her condition demanded, and for this failure to attend to her needs the matron was partly responsible. The fault in this case was not that there is any insufficiency in the nursing staff, but that the woman was not placed in the hospital wards where she might have received due care and attention. The inspector has also stated that in his opinion the temporary medical officer was not free from blame, having regard to the directions given by him in the case.