Get It Right

I’m fed-up listening to the mixed messages coming from the Department of Health and the HSE. One minute our Minister is vowing to provide extra beds in the health service and the next we’re being told that we’ve got too many beds. It’s time that Harney and those muppets in the HSE made their minds up.

We have a new chief medical officer (CMO) of the Department of Health, Dr Tony Holohan and in his first media interview since taking up his appointment, he announced that the Irish health system has too many hospital beds. Brendan Drumm, CEO of the HSE, is also peddling the same message. Meanwhile, our Minister for Health’s solution to relieving the bottleneck in A&E, has been to promote private for-profit co-located hospitals as a means of fast-tracking new beds into the system. At the same time, the Dept of Health has deemed our smaller hospitals ‘unsafe’ and is busily closing them down without first adjusting the conditions in the ‘centralised’ units’, with adverse consequences predicted.

The reality is that as things stand at the moment, our health service is in disarray. We have chaos in our A&E departments because of the bottleneck caused through lack of beds. The reason for the log-jam is because our tertiary healthcare services have been neglected over the years and many OAP’s now have no choice but to occupy hospital beds long term. Instead of Harney wasting her time and our money on privatising healthcare in this country, the focus should be put on developing primary care. Nobody refutes the fact that hospitals are not the safest place to be when recuperating from surgery. Primary care is the way forward, with enhanced outpatient care taking place in GP surgeries and public health clinics. This would cut the need for bed numbers with patient care moved to an outpatient or a community setting.

However, the Dept of Health and HSE have repeatedly failed to explain their role. The mixed messages emanating from the Health department are doing nothing to improve public confidence in the health service. Let the new CMO of the Dept of Health come out and tell us what the plans are. We need to know that the problem of  overcrowding in our hospitals will be solved. We need to hear that primary care will get the investment needed to take the pressure off the hospitals. Stop the indecision, we need reason to be hopeful.

There’s one thing that mustn’t be forgotten in all of this and that is the patient. Think back to the last time you were in hospital. What meant the most to you? Was it the good/bad facilities or was it the friendly staff who cared for you? What really counts when one is ill, is kindness but sadly, this is rapidly disappearing as our health service is decimated by mismanagement. The Minister would do well to remember the need for a familiar smiling face.

6 Responses to Get It Right

  1. Annb says:

    Steph, why do we need a dept of Health and a HSE? Don’t be lulled into any sense of a solution with the promotion of primary care units – while the current crop of managers of those primary care units around the county are in charge, we have no hope of ever having a functioning system. This is where you will find the worst of the rot. From personal very painful experience I have found them to be incompetent, spiteful, bean counters who have no interest in anything other than the bottom line and their own career advancement. The whole culture needs to change before we will see any real patient benefits.

  2. Steph says:

    Ann – “why do we need a dept of Health and a HSE?”

    I heard the very same question asked recently on a radio interview and the answer was less than convincing.

    Here’s what’s on the Dept of Health website…

    “The Department of Health and Children’s statutory role is to support the Minister in the formulation and evaluation of policies for the health services. It also has a role in the strategic planning of health services. This is carried out in conjunction with the Health Service Executive, voluntary service providers, Government Departments and other interested parties”.

    And according to the HSE website…

    “The HSE was set up as part of the provisions of the Health Act, 2004, which states the objective of the HSE is to provide services that improve, promote and protect the health and welfare of the public.”

    You could have fooled me!

    The Primary Care Strategy is in tatters as you can attest to, sadly. The funding allocated in the National Development Plan to deliver modern, purpose built primary care centres as the cornerstone of a transformed health service, has been massively cut. My own GP practice gave up waiting on the Dept of Health for funding and has gone ahead with the development of a new clinic providing multi-disciplinary care in my area. The facility is a huge improvement but can only a fraction of the services needed through lack of funding.

    If Harney has her way, she will try to privatise the primary care clinics as well!

  3. Annb says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head Steph – there is a complete lack of political will – all this talk of provision of primary care is just a smoke screen to allow them to close smaller regional hospitals. I’m not arguing with the theory proposed – but this theory is impossible to implement while the reality is completely at odds with policy. The culture within the HSE and the Dept of health is that of a rouge state just doing a solo run. We need to see management loose their jobs if they screw up – only then will we see the seeds of change.

  4. Steph says:

    Ann – Did you hear the latest farce over the consultant’s contract?

    “Due to the changes in the new consultant’s contract, if the consultant who happens to be on duty and who admits a privately insured patient, has a contract to treat only public patients (Type A contract), the former will have no right to be treated as a private patient. Insured patients will not have the option of private treatment by any secondary consultant involved in their care regardless of that consultant’s contract type.”

    This enrages me but not for the reasons you might think i.e because I’m an insured patient. It’s just another example of the ridiculous complicated mess that Harney has turned our health service into. If I’m ill, I don’t care what bloody contract my consultant has, I just want the doctor best suited to supervise my care.

    I was once put in this situation where I was asked to choose between my doctor and my level of accommodation. I had no hesitation choosing the doctor but it should never have been an issue.

    The solution = universal healthcare for all. Harney’s tenure in office has gone beyond a joke.

  5. Annb says:

    Oh God Steph – I’m dizzy now, what a mess! – we have completely lost sight of the patient in all this. I think it’s time to start whistling …’only look on the bright side of life’ again. We’d go stone mad otherwise!

  6. Steph says:

    Ann – I’ll go stone mad if Harney isn’t shunted out of office pronto.

    Her policies are all centred around ability to pay. The concept of medical need has been completely lost in the fray.

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