Radical health reform, in terms of creating equality and accessibility, and stopping the agenda of privatisation and for-profit medicine, is one of the great challenges facing Irish society.
In this pamphlet, anarchists explain the reasons why such change is needed, give examples of important first steps in creating change, and describe the type of struggle that is necessary if we are going to win.
The healthcare system, upon which people in Ireland depend, is an apartheid system. Simply put, some lives are worth more than others. Rare attempts at reform have been stymied by historic, chronic underspending and vested interests. This legacy has forced the vast majority of working people to take out private health insurance and has laid the foundations for a neo-liberal push towards an American-style system of private medicine.
Despite the “economic miracle” called the Celtic Tiger that has led to Ireland having a higher GNP per head of population than much of the rest of the EU, it lags behind in terms of health outcomes. At age 65 we have the lowest life expectancy in the EU for both men and women. Indeed, the gap between Irish and EU life expectancy has been widening. Infant mortality rates are above the EU average. We have above EU mortality rates for cancer and coronary heart disease. Despite Ireland’s incidence of breast cancer being among the lowest in Europe, the death rate in 2001 from breast cancer was the highest in EU15. To cap it all, we have a widening income gap, which analysis suggests will of itself worsen our health experience since greater inequality is associated with higher mortality rates.
As the number of patients reached a record high in recent days, healthcare workers in Emergency Departments (ED) in the country strive to maintain some acceptable standard of care delivery for patients. However nurses and doctors admit they are swamped and feel that current activity is unsustainable if the safety of patients is to be maintained. In some of the bigger centres in the country the huge backlog has created the situation where there is standing room only for ED patients. There is agreement among healthcare workers that the result of the over-crowding can only be increased morbidity and mortality for those requiring emergency treatment.
We know that the collective noun for a group of geese is a gaggle and for cows a herd, but what is the appropriate term for a plurality of doctors? According to the Irish state and political class, it would seem the correct name is an Alibi of Doctors.
Monday night saw a packed attendance for the 'It's My Choice' meeting in the Metropole Hotel, Cork City. The meeting, billed as an explicitly pro-choice public event, featured three speakers, United Left Alliance TD, Clare Daly, UCC Law lecturer, Claire Murray, and Dr. Mary Favier of Doctors for Choice. Unfortunately, a fourth speaker, Rebecca Gomperts, an activist with the Women on Waves organisation, was unable to attend
Witness Bahrain Ireland has called a demonstration this Tuesday because two RCSI alumni (who trained in Dublin) will be sentenced this Thursday (14th June) under scurrilous circumstances. It is hoped that bearing witness and raising awareness about this issue will prompt the RSCI to use its influence in Bahrain to help persecuted medical workers (some of whom the RSCI employs and have trained). The two medical workers [due to receive their final sentencing on Thursday 14th] were arrested, tortured and sentenced in a military court for treating peaceful demonstrators who were victims of police brutality. The RSCI response to this should be prompt, vigorous and completely unequivocal.
Last Wednesday workers representing all the main trade unions organised token lunchtime protests outside all the main hospitals in Northern Ireland including the RVH and Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry. These protests comes after the Tory led government in Westminster succeeded in passing its Health and Social Care bill through the houses of parliament on the 20thMarch. The bill marks the greatest shake up of the NHS since 1948 continuing the pattern of previous administrations in terms of cuts to essential services, staff and privatisation including the outsourcing of services to private companies subsidised by the tax-payer.
The tragic death of a 77 year old man who died alone and unnoticed waiting for treatment on a hospital trolley for 22 hours in Belfast’s main A&E ward in the Royal Hospital, is the result of savage healthcare cuts and the reduction of A&E services such as the closing down the ward in the Belfast city hospital last November.
PEOPLE HAVE got so used to the health cuts over the last ten years that they just accept them as their lot. The situation on hospital waiting lists for public patients is now so farcical that people are being offered appointments two years away. The waiting list for tonsils operations in Crumlin Children's Hospital is now two years long. Tell them that the child is missing a lot of school because of tonsillitis and produce doctors letters to that effect and you will get an appointment in 15 months!
Over Christmas I found myself at home babysitting my niece while my "better half B" had to go to work. Around 3.00 o'clock B rang me in pain that was so intense I could not make out what she was trying to tell me. After a few attempts it turned out that she had pain in her lower belly and she was on her way to the GP.