29 Jun 2022

Column: People must be held accountable for the state of our health system

Mary Cody writing in this week's Kilkenny People

Column: People must be held accountable for the  state of our health system

Immediate short term action needs to be taken to address the shocking state of our health care system.
We are constantly told that the economy is in a healthy state and if this is to be believed then it is high time that some of this money is diverted into the health care system which is on its knees.
It may be temporarily putting a bandage on a seeping wound but something has to be done in the short term while the medium to long term strategy is being considered.
It is nothing short of disgraceful that people are left on trollies while staff are expected to deal with an insurmountable level of crisis and chaos. Staff are at breaking point and very sick people are suffering unnecessarily. Hospitals can be frightening places when weak and ill people are left on trollies, sometimes for days. It beggars belief and is something to be expected in country rife with war or extreme poverty.
At the start of the month 57 people were forced to sleep on trollies and wards at St Luke's Hospital - which was the highest number recorded in the country at that time.
I will not attempt to provide long term solutions as I am no expert in business survival and strategy but our health care system is run on a business model. Surely management can come up with an effective solution?
The whole mix between public and private work of consultants is unfathomable to most. Consultants are able to work and manage two jobs for two different employers - an unusual way of doing business for most.
Last week Deputy John Mc Guinness raised serious concerns around patients at the Department of Psychiatry at St Luke's Hospital.
Conditions there have been described as akin to those in the ‘Third World’. Earlier this month there was acute overcrowding and literally nowhere for patients to go resulting in makeshift patient bays which included sofas and mattresses placed on the floor.
We hear of the economic recovery but our health care system is at breaking point. Waiting lists continue to be run on for months and even years having detrimental effects on the lives and health of countless numbers of people.
The GP system, which is most often the first port of call for patients, is over-stretched and under-resourced with doctors coming under huge pressure to keep surgeries afloat and functioning.
Newly-qualified GPs are emigrating in large numbers after successive pay cuts and tough working conditions. A lot of doctors are now choosing to work in hospitals which can often offer more financial security or are emigrating where pay and conditions are far superior to those offered here and they can enjoy a better work/life balance.
In this week’s Kilkenny People Dr Eluned Lawlor shared the harsh reality of how it is now close to impossible for new patients to find a doctor and how there are few if any applicants willing to take on the role of the rural GP.
Over the last 5 years there have been successive cuts to funding that goes to GPs of up to 38%. That's more than any other sector had sustain and there has been had no reversal to date creating more than challenging financial times for most GP surgeries.
Something has to change and fast. Our system is failing us - and in the meantime both public and private patients are finding it impossible to access life-saving treatments.
Shame on you Minister Harris.

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