Ireland is now one of the top richest countries in the world. In the mid-1980s, Ireland was a backwater with an average income level that was 30% below that of the European Union. Today, Irish incomes are 40% above the EU average and the Celtic Tiger continues to roar. Ireland’s exceptional economic growth in recent years has led to an influx of immigrants. We may have a booming economy but not everyone enjoys the same rewards. There were tremendous opportunities missed in the early days of the Celtic Tiger. We should have had substantial tax breaks as well as investment in social provision and infrastructure. Instead, most of the money went towards tax breaks for the better off and was used to fuel fancy cars, second homes, exotic holidays etc. while those less well-off were left to struggle to keep their heads above water. Meanwhile, our health service has suffered wanton neglect from years of underfunding by the various governments in power. Put simply, the Irish health service is in melt-down.
Despite a booming economy, we have hospitals that are seriously outdated with facilities that do not match the demands of a rapidly increasing population. An example of this is the rampant spread of health-care-associated infections (HCAI’s). I have written before here about our infection control policies. Comprehensive updated guidelines cannot be implemented despite the best efforts of healthcare professionals because of inadequate resources, sub-optimal infrastructure and a lack of access to relevant expertise locally. A recent death due to MRSA infection outlined yesterday in the Dublin County Coroner’s Court is testimony to this fact. The hospital in question, St. Columcille’s in Loughlinstown, Co. Dublin lacks the necessary resources and has no microbiologist in place to deal with MRSA and other such infections. Hospital staff have to consult with experts at other hospitals if such infections arise. What century are we living in?
Superbugs love this country – we are after all, well-known for being “Ireland of the Welcomes”. And, it looks like our Celtic superbugs are here to stay. Hospital acquired infections are now endemic in Irish hospitals and sadly patients are suffering and will continue to suffer. So much for the luck of the Irish!