Unprecedented Meltdown in the Health Service

[Speaking in the Seanad during Order of Business]

I know that I am beginning to sound like a broken record and that the attention of many in the Oireachtas has been distracted by other events which will take place in the first quarter of 2016. However, we cannot lose sight of the fact that there is an unprecedented meltdown in the health service. Problems I identified 22 years ago when I first came back to the country are just as bad as or worse than they ever were, despite numerous changes of Government. Blame attaches to parties on both sides of the House. God bless the good old Civil War, the gift that keeps on giving. However, if people focused on trying to fix the health service, they might be somewhat embarrassed by the fact that in a population of 4.5 million some 400,000 people are on waiting lists to be seen. One hears figures in the United States for the percentage of the young urban male population who are engaged with the criminal justice system, but this is every bit as embarrassing. Nearly 10% of people in this country – certainly more than 10% of adults – are waiting to be seen in the health service. Some 778 have been waiting for more than four years, while 83,000 have been waiting for over one year. The issue is the sheer bloody abnormality of waiting for one year to see a doctor in a modern western country, yet the penny has still not dropped after 22 years. There is something bizarre about a system which has as one of its metrics getting the number waiting for one year down to a reasonable number. Some 67,000 people are waiting for treatment. They are the ones who have already been seen in the system; therefore, one can work it out. One may be part of a double waiting process, whereby a patient waits to be seen, is then scheduled for treatment and then waits again for treatment. This excludes 14,500 inpatients awaiting diagnostic endoscopy services. I live through this every day in hospital, with patients sitting on beds waiting for days at a time for tests to be carried out. We have found out that at Limerick hospital, an institution that is staffed by very fine nurses and doctors, 2,400 patients have been registered as being on trolleys. In an equivalent period nine years ago the figure was one third of this. It is simply outrageous.

I do not like to use the word “scandal” lightly, but we are aware of the latest series of concerns about quality issues in obstetrics and radiology. In addition, data are emerging that show a large number of consultants in post, in a country that is desperately short of specialists, are locums. The country with the largest number of medical schools in the world per head of population and which churns out more medical graduates per capita than nearly every other country in the world is importing doctors from some of the most medically under-served countries in the world. We cannot even create enough career level jobs for the people we have available here. I recently received representations from several colleagues who had been forced to quit and retire. Given their skills and expertise, the system has thus been deprived of unbelievable human and intellectual capital because they have reached their 65th birthday. I have highlighted the case of one of them before who has not been completely replaced.

I have recently been informed about what happened with a post considered to be an extraordinarily sought after position. The post should have had Irish graduates lining up, dusting off their curricula vitae and promoting the fact that they had training in America, Boston, London or wherever. It should have enticed them to come back but no Irish graduate applied for the post. That shows we desperately need to take a serious look at the issues. They are interrelated and come down to one core issue – the management, structure and financing of the health service, which is not something that can be administratively adjusted.

We need revolution and not reform in the health service.

2 Responses to “Unprecedented Meltdown in the Health Service”
  1. ladyportia27 says:

    The management is CP controlled and no one in their right mind can work with it or under it.

  2. ladyportia27 says:

    You simply must re educate all trained CP agents as that is where the problem lies. Operating outside of authority and using various manipulation and unlawful methods is clear for anyone with training in psychology to see. The tactics are all mapped out by Swedish University- so no excuses needed to see the reality.

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