Inhumane Waiting Lists and Cancer Care Levels

[Speaking in the Seanad during Order of Business]

I ask the Leader to bring to the attention of the Minister for Health, and to consider having a debate on, the promised reform of our health system. It was one of the key planks of Fine Gael and the Labour Party before the last general election and reform would have ended our two-tier health system.

Two pieces of evidence illustrate it this week. Data were published over the past 24 hours although I have not had a chance to see the raw data. The coverage in the press suggests something that is widely known, namely, there is colossal disparity in cancer mortality rates based on socio-economic status. There are complex reasons for this in terms of the causation of cancer but also, possibly, access to the treatment and diagnostic services. If this is the case, it is a crisis that must be addressed urgently. Over the past decade, we have made cancer a poster child for such reform as has occurred in our health system and it is dispiriting that, so many years after so many bureaucracies were set up, the colossal disparity still exists. I would like some explanation as to why it is the case.

There is coverage in the newspaper today about a young girl called Genevieve Costello. I could not make this up. She waited not one, two, three, four or five but six years to see a specialist in allergies. During this time, she had several presentations with potentially lethal episodes of allergic reaction, which may have related to peanut exposure. She had to go to emergency rooms to have the reaction sorted out. She was told at one stage there would be a four-year waiting list and then told some years later that she had to reapply. She then found out there was no specialist consultant in a post to do it. When a specialist consultant was appointed, she was told the waiting list to be seen was one year.

There is something seriously wrong. This is not only inhumane but bad medicine and bad business. Having people going to accident and emergency units, possibly having severe reactions, which can cost tens of thousands of euro to treat if they are in intensive care units, is not a clever way of dealing with a problem that should be dealt with in a timely fashion through prevention. I ask the Leader to bring this to the attention of the Minister and, in whatever form he sees fit, we can have some report back on how the issue will be dealt with. It is very dispiriting to see this kind of problem and to see that, 21 years after I came back to Ireland and started highlighting issues like this, there has apparently been no progress.

One Response to “Inhumane Waiting Lists and Cancer Care Levels”
  1. Eileen OSullivan says:

    Hi Prof Crown,

    I did see this report also and couldn’t locate the data behind it. It is indeed horrendous if ones living location can make one three times more likely to die from cancer than a person living in a more affluent area. Can this be just related to later diagnosis or less accessible primary care? I hope not. I do believe that diet/lifestyle are contributing factors as well as smoking and drinking. It is not cheap to eat healthily. It is a sorry state of affairs when 6 donuts are a quarter of the price of 6 apples. Many parent are feeding their kids so as not to be hungry rather than to be well nourished. Many times this is just down to financial resources. So we end up with overweight kids and adults but malnourished. There is something wrong somewhere when responsible farmers cannot get a fair price for their beef, with middlemen taking a huge chunk of profit while consumers cannot afford the products. Apparently, the product that is now most often stolen from supermarkets, since economic crisis, is meat. You may notice meat is now security tagged in Supermarkets. Now one doesn’t have to have meat to have a good diet but a little, from well cared for animals (grass fed)is good, I think?

    I don’t know what the solution is to the growing cancer levels but certainly no smoking, less alcohol, moving ones butt a bit and a healthy diet can help. The latter, I am quite passionate about. Food education and affordable nourishing food is not a bad way to reduce cancer risks, in my very humble view. Maybe bring back farmer co-ops?.

    Best regards

    Sent from my iPhone


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