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Hospital Issue Will Not Go Away

The issue of Monaghan GeneraL Hospital will not go away as the extra suffering and needless deaths, which are happening, will keep the issue alive. We hear that a Junior Minister is heading the Monaghan Way at the request of Senator Gallagher. That might sound good news but judging by what happened recently when a public meeting last week was held in Ballybofey re. closure of a local Community Hospital, I would not be too optimistic about a positive outcome from the Minister’s visit to Monaghan, other than getting more platitudes.  Many have approached me about having a Public Demonstration on the roads leading to the hospital to coincide with his visit and the Alliance is currently considering if this would be feasible. A decision will be made within the next few days and it will be announced publicly.

The problems continue and increase. The media changes its attention to other matters and once they stop talking about health everything goes back to Irish ‘normal’. We are not hearing the big stories about elderly people lying on trolleys for hours on end waiting to get treated and/or a bed. The young children who have to wait for hours in A & E’s before being seen by a doctor is no longer ‘big news’ and so gets little space in newspapers. We are not hearing about the long waiting times for an ambulance. We are not hearing the stories of patient files going missing, and we don’t hear about the long waits for an appointment. We are not hearing too much about the discharges that are happening too soon and the patient has to be rushed back to hospital in a worse condition than originally. We are not hearing too much about the medical mistakes that are being made due to pressure of work and work related stress.

All those years we were told that the way forward was Centres of Excellence and that we would have excellent services when they closed Monaghan and made us go elsewhere. False. We were told that mistakes in small hospitals made them unsafe for patients and now when there are mistakes in Centres of Excellence we do not hear them telling us that that Centre of Excellence is unsafe?? (I also wonder who and why the tag University Hospital has been added to hospitals around the country – does that make them better?) Yes, mistakes will always happen in medicine as we humans are complex structures and no one has worked out how everything works in our bodies. Yes doctors and nurses will make mistakes but if those mistakes are happening because of overcrowding, lack of resources, or systems, which have been designed by non-medical personnel for financial reasons or to ease pressure on another section of the hospital, or to be able to satisfy the media short term, then the interest of the patient is not central to the decision making and the patient will be the one to suffer.

While we all have our minds concentrated on treatment and our hospitals there still seems to be a different plan going on in the background and that is to Privatise as much as possible within our health services. If our public system is in poor shape more and more will beg, borrow or steal to pay for health insurance to be able to get treatment faster. Until very recently the Private hospitals did not have an A & E as there was no profit to be made there. However things are changing and the private healthcare system now see ways whereby they can make profit on Emergency Units. The HSE is also promoting, ‘even though they use the phrase – give you information on’ having treatment in another country. It sounds good but there are many pitfalls and one major one is – what happens if something goes wrong after you come home – will you have to go back to that country and will the HSE pay you for that?

It is an amazing situation in the country – we have a Health Ministerial section with Senior and Junior Ministers and their staff; we have a Department of Health with a huge staff; we have a HSE with a massive staff; we have umteen voluntary organisations looking after the needs of huge numbers of patients; and we have voluntary carers in families all over the state and even with all that – we cannot have a health service which will look after everyone irrespective of who they are or how much they have. We have a health service creaking at every joint and needs replacements because what we have is not working. Why are we paying so much money in taxes, donations, insurance, and voluntarily to charities and we are getting such a poor return for our money. We need to get rid of the chaff.