Dear Mary

To: Ms Mary Harney, Minister for Health & Children

I’m writing to let you know my views on the public health service. Having spent three days last week residing in the busy A&E department of a large teaching hospital, I feel qualified to comment. The experience has left me wanting answers to many questions. Please listen to what I have to say.

Last Friday my doctor sent me to A&E for emergency care as I’d developed a serious complication following surgery some weeks earlier. On arrival in A&E, I was rapidly processed by a triage nurse and seen by the registrar on-call. An immediate decision was taken to admit me to the hospital. I finally reached a ward on Monday afternoon! During the 3 days and nights spent in A&E, I was extremely well-cared for but the conditions were hell. The staff were so busy, patients had long waits for help. It was like being in a war zone, people lying on trolleys everywhere with further casualties arriving by the hour. It was also extremely noisy with little or no privacy. These conditions do not aid recovery.

My first question to you, Mary,  is this… why must sick and injured people be exposed to these awful conditions in order to be admitted to hospital? Where are the 1,000 extra beds you promised when you took over as Minister for Health 5 years ago? I sure could have done with one of those beds last Friday.

It was a great relief when I was finally transferred to a 4-bed semi-private ward where I remain. I’m receiving excellent medical and nursing care here. Thankfully, this hallmark of Irish healthcare remains intact despite the inadequate funding of our public health service. I’ve no doubt that this is due to the dedication of the staff who work in frontline services. The unit I’m in, has been recently refurbished and is beautifully fresh and clean. I’ve no complaints really except I’d obviously prefer to be in my own howm. The catering is good, plenty of good nutritional food and frequent offers of hot/cold drinks. I’m very aware that this aids a speedy recovery and subsequent discharge from hospital.  I’ve not always hit this lucky.

Over the years,  I’ve spent many weeks as a patient in this same hospital, on the public wards.  It has always been a grim experience in terms of patient comfort, lack of facilities etc. I don’t think much has changed although I have heard that hygeine levels have improved on the big wards. My medical history is extensive so I choose to hold private health insurance to ensure that I can get care when needed. My case is complex and so I cannot be admitted to one of the smaller private hospitals for treatment although I’m fully insured to do so. These smaller hospitals cannot provide the care I require.

I want you to know, Mary, that it’s distressing to observe your clear policy of starving the public hospitals of funding while you promote the development of co-located private hospitals. The staff who work at the frontline in our public hospitals, are fantastic but they are being stretched to the limit to provide the care needed in our under-resourced public hospital system.  I plead with you to stop bleeding our health service to death while you continue to promote an inequitable health service. Give us a break, Mary.

The semi-private unit I’m in, is excellent. I do not need for anything better as all my needs are being met here. I’ve hit lucky on this occasion as this is the most comfortable unit in the hospital. However, the WHOLE hospital should run like this unit. Instead, the majority of the rest of the hospital is no longer fit for purpose. It’s time to put our health resources to proper use. Surely everyone deserves fair and equitable healthcare?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Steph @ The Biopsy Report

8 Responses to Dear Mary

  1. Grannymar says:

    Thankfully you now sound very comfortable and well looked after.

  2. Ian says:

    I’m glad you are feeling better.

    I do hope she does not see through the implementation of her agenda and, when she is no longer a TD after the next election, accept appointment to the boards of the groups who have benefited.

  3. Steph says:

    Grannymar – Just wait till next week and I’ll probably start moaning. The word still is 2 weeks minimum here.

    Ian – Welcome back from your travels and nice to hear from you again.

    Well-said!

  4. Baino says:

    Did you send it? You should or at the very least get it published in one of the papers. A similar story here I think. I heard that one, single classroom scholl with one enrolment for next year has just received $130,000 grant for a classroom upgrade when our hospitals are stretched to the limit and wards closing due to lack of staff. No wonder our doctors all want to be specialists rather than general practitioners or hospital staff.

  5. achelois says:

    Thinking of you – wishing you well and definately wishing the experience was one you had not to endure!

  6. Annb says:

    Fair points well made as ever Steph. Good to see you’re feeling well enough to get this off your chest in such a coherent manner. Maybe Mary should spend a weekend in a busy A&E waiting for a bed. It may jolt her into sanity!

  7. Nancy says:

    I am happy to see that you are well enough to give Mary the business about the conditions in your hospital.

    It’s nice that your particular situation is a good one for you and Matilda ( I loved that Baino post,too.)

    Hope you continue to feel well enough to gripe. It’s a very good sign ,actually!

    We are all thinking of you and wishing you the best….

  8. Steph says:

    Baino – I haven’t sent it to the press but I do know that my blog get picked up in political circles. One of the purposes of this post was to acknowledge that our public health service has the potential to be superb when properly resourced. I hit lucky on this occasion other than having to wait 3 days in A&E for a bed in a ward. The fact remains though, healthcare in this country should not be about ‘hitting lucky’. It should there for everyone with a universal health funding scheme in place.

    The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) director of industrial relations, is quoted in the paper yesterday as saying “we object strongly to the Government policy which favours the development of private hospitals over public hospitals. We object strongly to a Government policy that commits hundreds of millions of euro in taxpayers’ money to the development of private hospitals at the expense of investing in our public hospitals”.

    achelois – Thank you 😀

    I got a very nice, unexpected surprise yesterday. I’ve been discharged home! Will write a post to explain shortly.

    Ann – How come you always make me blush? 😳

    As regards Mary, not a chance on either score.

    Nancy – I never plan a post. It just comes to me, usually at an inconvenient time like when in the shower or driving and then I can’t rest until I get the words out. If I don’t feel like writing, I don’t. Don’t you worry, I’ve still got plenty of fight in me. It takes more than a ‘wee’ infection to silence Steph 😉

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