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Health Visitor and Other Updates

We are led to believe that the Minister for Health was in Monaghan last week and met with councillors and paid a visit to Monaghan General Hospital. This seems to have been a sneaky type of visit as few were allowed to know of his coming until after he left. I have been told that some public representatives from other parties were only given a few hours notice. Monaghan Community Alliance were certainly not told about it by those who knew and we wonder why? Were they afraid of something?

The reports we have received since the visit are contradictory. Some tell of his great promises to expend services at Monaghan General Hospital and some say it was just more of the same old same old and that Cavan will get anything that is going. We await the report in the Northern Standard, which will carry an unbiased account of who said what and what the Minister actually promised.

Now we would not get very excited by promises. How often and how many promises were made to Monaghan people in the past and what became of them. What about ‘Fight, fight, fight for your hospital and Fine Gael will fight with you’? or is that fight about to begin? Looking at the enormous problems in our health sector – (the numbers waiting on an appointment, the numbers waiting on surgery, the numbers waiting on home help, the scarcity of Doctors, nurses and consultants, the volume of traffic at a stand-still in our A & E’s, the ambulance delays, the needless deaths through overcrowding, the mistakes being made due to stressed and overworked staff who do not have the resources and personnel to do their jobs properly, the administrative mishmash and ineffectual HSE etc etc.) and then look at all the promises which this Minister and Taoiseach has made about setting things right and solving some of these problems and we still move along from crisis to crisis as the media take on a story and expose a failing within the health service, but the promises seem to die as soon as the media change to a different problem and no one is held responsible. We will believe the Minister when we see action.

Now to the request by Emyvale Development Association to all Public Representatives, asking them to get in touch with the authorities to have an ambulance placed at Emyvale Health Centre for the duration of the road works on the N2. Ambulance delays to North Monaghan have been a cause of great concern and with further hold-up on the road due to the realignment we suggested that an ambulance in Emyvale would counteract that extra delay. Some of the Representatives responded by giving us the response they received from National Ambulance Service (NAS) who have control of ambulance placings. All had the same answer – the NAS has made an agreement with the Construction Company on the road that ambulances will get priority passage through and coming back again with a patient. NAS control would have a specific telephone number, which they would contact to inform them an ambulance was on the way and priority would be given.

We are not satisfied with that arrangement. First of all there will be times when the roadway is closed completely as when cutting down large tree along the route and other times. Priority cannot be given in those circumstances and the ambulance would be delayed having to take an alternative route.  Also the work ends each evening and Traffic Lights will control traffic flow during non-working times (nights and weekends). There will be no one there to give priority to the ambulance. When pressed on this the answer was that ‘we go with this arrangement and if there is a problem we will review the arrangement’. In other words we see this as – if someone dies as a result of delay we will hold a review and look at alternative arrangements and then maybe the work will be nearly finished and there will be no need to try anything.  We would also remind them that there is not a day goes past when one or more ambulance(s) pass through the Emyvale to Monaghan road bearing a very ill patient to a Dublin Hospital from Letterkenny.  It is bad enough having to suffer such a journey at the best of times and time is of the essence for their survival. It is absurd to have very sick patients transported such a journey by land and indeed, had the Government accepted our proposal over ten years ago, this problem too would have been solved – namely to build a Joint Regional Hospital, somewhere between Ballygawley and Monaghan to serve the communities North and South of the border. Of course it would now be in limbo with BREXIT on its way.

By chance I met with a senior manager in the NAS a few days ago and we discussed the issue. He told me that when the original response was given, it was on the basis of an arrangement made with the contractor for Phase 1 and that the NAS did not even know there was going to be a Phase 3 until our proposal reached them through the public representatives. Only now are the negotiations and arrangements being made with the contractor for the priority passage of ambulances. It is also possible that the NAS would call out an ambulance from Northern Ireland if there was one closer to the incident. However Monaghan people are being further reminded that we can be sacrificed for the saving of a few euro.