Opinion: The never-ending mess that poses as the Irish Health Care System achieved yet another unwanted milestone recently as it was revealed that the 667 patients who were waiting on hospital trolleys for full admission to hospital is the largest number ever recorded.
For decades now the frontline for Irish hospitals has been the Accident and Emergency (A&E) service. It is in these wards where car accident victims, stroke victims, sufferers from minor and major injuries as well as drunkards and drug abusers vie for the limited medical capacity available. The staff who operate these desperate places deserve every credit for their patience and compassion. Anyone who has ever visited one of these wards or who has had the misfortune to be a patient in one of them knows that at times they can resemble a scene from a war movie.
The Irish Health Care System has been under-funded for many years now and was further hit in the wake of the economic crash of 2008. The EU/IMF/ECB provided loans to successive Irish governments to keep the ATM machines working, to pay state employees, but most of all, BUT MOST OF ALL, to pay back the Irish Banks loans to the ‘Bond-holders’ of the German and French banks. This was blackmail in its most naked form and shows the European Union in the light that it deserves to be viewed in. Every man (or country) for himself. The idea that Ireland (or Greece or Cyprus for that matter) is part of a ‘community’ is risible.
The consequence for the Hospitals of this hijacking of Irish funds by the EU has been that wards have been closed, staff numbers reduced, capacity reduced, and all at the exact moment that tens of thousands of Irish citizens abandoned their private health insurance because they could not afford it any more.
The result has been 6, 12 or even 24 hour waits on hospital trolleys in A&E wards for patients, waiting for full admission to the hospital so they can receive the care they have been diagnosed as requiring. Those who still have health insurance can game the system and jump the queue, disgracefully being allowed to use publicly-owned health facilities for their private health care.
Appointments for MRI scans, for meetings with Oncologists, and even for blood tests can all take weeks, months or even years, depending on the service required.
Vested interests within the Health System carefully protect their private fifedoms while at the other end of the scale some patients gleefully access the ridiculously generous Irish Courts and sue everyone and everything that moves.
In short, the Irish Health Care System is a creaking mess, consuming more and more Euro yet never seeming to get any better.
The announcement by the current Minister for Health that private hospital beds are to be funded to alleviate the current crisis is merely the latest bandage being applied to what is a massive gunshot wound. The use of private hospital beds has always been the case over the last number of years (decades). Superficial sound-bites and political posturing continue to be the order of the day while the weary Irish citizenry put up with it.
We deserve better.