Putting the patient first

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Breda Gardner Homeopath, LCPH, MCOS, RGN runs busy natural health clinics at Health Therapies Clinic, 13 Gladstone Street, Waterford and 15 Upper Patrick Street, Kilkenny. For information Tel: 087 2025753 / 056 7724429.

Whilst out canvassing last week, I was told an interesting story by a constituent.
Some 26 years ago, this man broke his arm, and was taken to St Lukes Hospital in Kilkenny city. He was placed on a trolley and wheeled into a corridor where he was left alone until a bed became available.

Fast forward to March 2019, and the same guy fell and broke his jaw. He was taken to St Lukes Hospital in great pain. Once again he was placed on a trolley and wheeled into a corridor. As the adrenalin and pain killers began to wear off, he looked around and realised that he was in exactly the same corridor where he had been all those 26 years ago!

And that brief story for me perfectly sums up what is wrong with our health service. Nothing has changed.

And that brief story for me perfectly sums up what is wrong with our health service. Nothing has changed. A system that should be helping patients is patently failing to do so.

Successive governments have tried and failed to improve things. To allow such an endemic situation fester and persist for 26 years and more is nothing short of a national scandal.

Ministers, civil servants in the Department of Health, politicians and HSE directors are unable or unwilling to grasp the nettle and sort the issue once and for all.

So what can be done? The first step, I think, is a radical shift in attitude by those same ministers, civil servants, politicians and HSE directors. Here’s what that attitude should be: let policy be guided by putting the patient first.

I look at the National Children’s Hospital, and I can’t help thinking that policy there has been driven by too many wrong considerations: a drive towards centralisation, a power grab by certain medical professionals and hospitals, political kudos and point scoring, and the privatisation of health care.

Meanwhile, at the back of the queue, this simple question has been largely ignored: “what would be best for the children?” In the case of the National Children’s Hospital, here are some of the answers: care based on medical need rather than how much money you have, easy access and ample parking for parents and staff, affordable accommodation for family members, and room to expand.

Alas, the ongoing lack of 24 x 7 cardiac care in the South East is symptomatic of how governments and government agencies are still failing the very people they are supposed to serve. I will be attending the protest march for 24 x 7 on Saturday 18th May from 1.45pm in the Glen, Waterford, and urge every single reader to attend too. People power – and by association, how we vote – is the only way that we can change attitudes and deliver a health service that puts the patient first.

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