Government Attacks on Healthcare

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As the health budget is cut, a worsening health service will predictably result in higher national morbidity and mortality. Are we prepared to allow this to occur?

While the current coven of ministers prepare to vacate their comfy chairs in Leinster house, one in particular seems to have no sense of shame, Mary Harney, who was recently quoted as having no regrets for her actions during her tenure despite the litany of bad choices and u-turns made by her over the years. The announcement of the now infamous “Four Year Plan” serves to confirm the worst fears that devastating changes are to be implemented in the HSE.

What will this mean for the overstretched health service? It is not difficult to imagine a general and rapid stagnation of the services. The reduction of frontline staff – nurses, doctors, healthcare assistants, porters and allied healthcare workers – will undoubtedly impact massively on service users/patients. The number of ill patients stuck on trolleys has risen and will increase further as planned bed closures continue. The current amount of closed beds around the country stands at over 1500.

Government and HSE rhetoric has led us to believe that we have a health service that is modelled on “Centres of Excellence”. The reality for patients and families is far from an experience of excellence as was recently highlighted by the case of a patient with advanced cancer who spent 25 hours on an A&E trolley awaiting treatment, despite having high level private health insurance. This reality will become the norm for more and more patients, particularly those who do not have the privilege of health insurance.

Frontline staff that are already working in dangerous conditions nationwide due to increased workload and reduced resources are now facing even further draconian measures. Not satisfied with the long running moratorium, the government want to remove a further 13,000 public sector jobs, many of which will be cut from the health services. We can expect more suffering in the years to come for individuals and their families as the general health of our society worsens.

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