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Our Failing Health Service
From the time that the Community Alliance was formed in June 2002 we constantly highlighted the real problems in our health
services. Apart from being overloaded with administrators, managers and secretaries there were not enough nurses and doctors.
There was also a scarcity of consultants but that was more the fault of the consultants themselves.
Monaghan, for example, was one of the hospitals for whom the resources were constantly cut and redirected elsewhere. Health
Boards were the ruling bodies but they were politically led and politically influenced and the patient seemed of little concern when
decisions were being made. Then when the HSE was formed, the lack of attention to the concerns of those at the coalface caused
a further deterioration of work conditions for nurses and doctors. This deterioration caused many nurses and doctors to turn their
backs on our hospitals and move abroad or to change career. We, all the while, were trying to impress upon the authorities and
the politicians that our health services were sinking and would soon become overloaded if a change in direction was not adopted
by the powers that be.
They should have learned a lesson when they attempted to get 1,500 nurses and doctors to come back to Ireland to help sort out
the mess in our hospitals and they succeeded in getting 75. They did not seem to understand that it was the system needed
changing and the conditions of work needed to be vastly improved. Then there were those who were promoting the Private Health
system and expecting the population to pay through the nose for health insurance so that they could get treatment. People were
lying on trolleys on corridors, people who were sick and suffering, and there was no solution in sight. Waiting lists grew and grew
as hundreds of thousands waited for an appointment and, while they waited, their condition deteriorated and by the time they
had the appointment and the diagnosis it was too late for a cure or took much longer to cure. That cost more money than if the
diagnosis had been made earlier. And still the lists are growing only now they can blame Covid.
The nurses and doctors are still leaving our shores and in order to try to manage the number of patients they are paying agency
nurses to do the work. However this is also costing much more, 85% more, than if they had regular staff. Recently a study has
been made in a number of hospitals to work out how many nurses etc are needed to provide adequate care in the different
sections of a hospital but nothing has been done to make work conditions such that nurses will want to work there yet it has
shown that if conditions were right and sufficient numbers of personnel working together nurses would want to work in our
Then we have the workload of our GPs on whom the Government has loaded one job after another and expect them to take up
the slack to such an extent that we are running out of GPs because, like the nurses, they have better conditions in other
countries. Another budget last week and extra money to be spent on Health but how will it be spent. Will it be spent on more
managers to draw up plans as to how to get nurses to work in our hospitals? Maybe it will be spent on buying more beds for our
hospitals but then we have no nurses to look after the patients in those extra beds. Maybe the €3billion that has to be paid for
the Childrens Hospital will soak up anything extra that is in the purse? Maybe when we divide the HSE into regional groups we will
need that extra money to build new offices and employ extra managers for each region? Each region will have to have a CEO and
he/she will be entitled to €300,000 per annum in order to get competent persons to do the job. The hospitals are already broken
into boxes. There are seven in all - Ireland East Hospital Group; RCSI Hospital Group; Dublin Midlands Hospital Group; UL
Hospitals; South/Southwest Hospital Group; Saolta Hospital Group; and Children's Health Ireland. Monaghan is part of the RCSI
(Royal College of Surgeons Ireland) Hospital group, which includes Beaumont Hospital Dublin; Connolly Hospital Dublin; Our Lady
of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda; Louth County Hospital Dundalk; Cavan General Hospital; Monaghan Hospital; and Rotunda Hospital
Dublin. Do you think that any cash going will get out of Dublin or if it gets down the road it will be very little by the time it
Meanwhile almost 1,000,000 patients wait, which includes hundreds of children who are waiting for two years for surgery. Every
day that passes means a further deterioration in the condition and there is a line after which it is too late. This situation was there
prior to Covid and yes Covid has not helped but all those who run our health service – Minister for Health; Department of Health,
HSE, and all the subdivisions of these try to convince us that they are doing something to solve the problems but why are things
getting worse instead of better.
Finally we must ask if our public representatives are doing enough to improve things for the Monaghan patients. Patients from
Monaghan must get to Cavan and their families must go to Cavan to visit them over what has been described as one of the worst
road networks in Ireland. Recently the Monaghan/Clones road was closed to enable necessary repairs but it meant a diverse
journey for those heading to Cavan. Doctors and Consultants who travel from Cavan to Clinics in Monaghan have complained
about the difficulty of traversing this roadway and its dangers. A new Palliative Care centre will be opened in Cavan and it is to
serve Cavan and Monaghan ensuring that more people from Monaghan must make that hazardous journey to be with loved ones.
Why has our public representatives not demanded that Monaghan get its own Palliative Care Centre. There was one in Monaghan
but like so many other services – it was taken away too, just like our Emergency Room and other services which need to be closer
to the patient and the family.