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We Told Them So

It’s Time to Take Health Seriously

714 patients lying on trolleys or side wards waiting on a bed but it’s not just the bed – they need treatment and care and they cannot access any of this. Meantime our Health Minister ‘cannot live’ and ‘cannot bear’ the suffering of the ladies who have to go abroad to get an abortion or who take tablets to cause an abortion and thus putting themselves in danger. The Taoiseach is swanning about the USA looking forward to a meeting with President Trump and hoping there are plenty of cameras pointed in his direction. Other Ministers are packing their bags getting ready to fly off to some distant country for St. Patrick’s Day and the Dáil is closed for business.

Isn’t it time they all began to take the major and unprecedented shambles of our Health Services a little bit more seriously and began to think of the danger and suffering of the poor patients languishing on trolleys, not to mention the 700,000 patients waiting to get an appointment and the hundreds of patients, who will be told this week, and another thousand next week, that their surgery has been cancelled. Many of these numbers will die, NEEDLESSLY, as a result of the delay, the overcrowding, and the spread of infection in packed A & E’s.  This is not to mention the conditions they are forcing the nurses, doctors, consultants, and ancillary staff to work in and do their job without making mistakes and with a loving care.

It is amazing to hear some of those who are speaking out about the situation. One of the main reasons we have this situation is that this and previous Governments over the past two decades and more, have been closing down beds to save money to pay the huge increase in administration staff and briefcase carrying experts. They closed facilities like Monaghan, Nenagh, Ennis, Roscommon etc. and stuffed the patients from those hospitals into hospitals, which did not have the resources to cope with the extra workload or space to accommodate the increase in patient numbers. Nurses and doctors were expected to manage the numbers in terrible environments, which in turn caused new staff to run in the opposite direction. Who would want to take a job in those conditions and for such poor reward. Young nurses and doctors saw the stress and pressure on the staff and decided to turn their backs on Ireland and seek to further their career in a foreign country. Now the Government cannot get the staff to cover the beds that they need to reopen.

This plan to close hospitals like Monaghan was advised to Government by top medics, now some top medics are crying about the terrible conditions. Yes there were some patients who would benefit by being treated in a hi-tech hospital with hi-tech equipment and highly trained specialist medics and nursing staff but it was uneconomic and a waste of money to send every patient there. And the majority, who did not require such high-tech treatment and nursing care, could have been treated in places like Monaghan and leave the Hi-tech beds for those who really needed them. They see that now and see that they need to reopen the beds they closed but they cannot get the personnel to staff those beds. One attempt they had to attract 1,500 nurses back to Ireland ended up getting 87 to come back.

Unfortunately the present situation has become so deep and troubled that it cannot be sorted in a week or even a month but there are steps that they could take to relieve some of the pressure almost immediately like making more use of places like Monaghan General Hospital. Telling us that they are going to build three new hospitals to do elective work is a sop to make us think they are doing something but how many years will it take for the preparatory work and planning to be complete? How many patients will have died needlessly in the meantime? How many more nurses will have emigrated to use their skills elsewhere? How many more ‘PLANS’ will be produced to deal with the ‘current crisis’? How many more ‘apologies’ will have to be offered to families of loved ones, who died from delays or overcrowding?  I hate to say –‘We told you so’ but since the first week of its existence Monaghan Community Alliance told of the consequences of what they were doing but they did not listen – we were scaremongering. How many times was I on a deputation to meet with politicians in Leinster House as a member of the Health Services Action Group at National level to tell them that they were making the wrong decision and that it would be disastrous for patients but – did they listen? Will they listen now?????

Car Parking Charges:

It has been revealed that families are paying huge sums of money to go visiting sick relatives in hospital because of the massive money charged for parking in the hospital car parking facility. They did not have to tell me as my family learned the hard way during the past couple of years. But even for patients themselves, going for tests and/or treatment it costs a huge amount over a period of time. Listening to the discussion on Radio and Television today the emphasis seemed to be on the patient and families of cancer patients and the Irish Cancer Society are supposed to be trying to get free parking for Cancer patients and their families. However I would ask - why just Cancer and why not all patients. What is the difference? Is it just because Cancer has a strong voice to fight the corner whereas other illnesses, many of which are just as serious as cancer, have no one to stand up for them? The exorbitant prices they charge is really unfair as they are attacking the most vulnerable and making life more miserable for the families and the patients. Some hospitals are very conscious of that and have very reasonable prices and indeed I believe there are some hospitals who do offer free parking for patients suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses. This is another job for the Minister to solve.