Do you need a doctor now?

The annual general meeting of the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) took place this weekend in Limerick. It didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know already – that is, if you have been following the health debate in Ireland for any time. The problem is, like most things in health, most people don’t really follow health issues until they have a ‘health issue’ of their own. It’s a perfectly logical position, but one that allows for a lot of obfuscation by the ‘powers that be’.

Those ‘powers that be’ are the Health Service Executive, the Minister and the Department of Health and ultimately, the government. For them, it’s all about the statistics and how they can be managed. It has very little to do with, and is only coincidentally related to the care of patients. Continue reading »

Pick up your mat and walk

There are many ‘miracles’ quoted in the Bible and they are rightly described as ‘miracles’, in the sense that they defy all reasoning. The Bible, no matter how deep one’s faith, is not, however, a scientific paper. When Jesus said to the lame man ‘Pick up your mat and walk’, there were no doctors on-site to prove that (a) the man was lame to begin with and (b) that other people could be cured in the same fashion.

We live in an age though, when Biblical miracles are possible – not through any divine intervention – but rather through the application of medical science that is, in itself, the product of many years of human scientific endeavor. How else can one explain the news that a paralysed man in the United Kingdom can now walk again? Continue reading »

Don’t believe me if I tell you not a word of this is true

The great Phil Lynott is responsible for the title of this piece. It could double as a motto for this blog. I started this online project with the intention of trying to tell the actual truth (as I saw it) about the health service and hopefully, to encourage others to do the same.

And when some other journalists do that – when they lift the garbage can lid and expose what’s really going on – then it’s more important for me to draw attention to their work than try to compete with my own two cents.

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Fair health to you

When we think about health and wellness, or more rarely, its converse, death and illness, we are troubled by the unfairness and arbitrary nature of it all. Now that modern medicine has conquered a great many illnesses (especially infant disease and death) we assume that we will have longer and healthier lives than our parents, and that most other people will too.

But then we hear of tragic cases and it seems so unfair. Suicides, rare diseases and a seemingly random genetic lottery strikes one person down with a fatal disease, while others smoke their way into their nineties. “It’s not fair”, we think.

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First, do no harm

There are at least three phrases the Irish people don’t want to hear again after eating the humble pie of an economic collapse.

Those post-prandial flourishes – “We are where we are”, “legacy issues” and “the actions of a previous government” seem like reasonable excuses, but not when the government seems hell-bent on creating the type of problems now that will come back to haunt us in the future.

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Reilly’s delays in health are just a cop-out

We are finally beginning to glimpse Minister James Reilly‘s vision for the health service but, unfortunately, it is a mirage. It is based on a new approach in politics, a constantly shifting vision of something good that moves further back every time we approach it.

Such is the case with Universal Health Care – launched last week but not available in practice for at least five years. It’s like the famous songline, “You’ll get pie in the sky when you die” – a promise that the long-term future will be different, if only you’re around to experience it.

We’ve been here before, of course. We’ve had the mental health strategy, the primary care strategy, the waiting list plan and a host of other really good things that, if they were implemented, would be excellent improvements. But, of course, they haven’t been implemented because ultimately, the dream is thought to be good enough for accumulating political capital while we’re waiting for the health service to miraculously change by itself. Continue reading »

Man dies of self-inflicted burns in nursing home

An elderly man died from burns he received  in a nursing home tragedy in Bray, Co Wicklow after he allegedly went for a cigarette in the toilet.

Mr Oliver Cronin (69) was a resident at Shannagh Bay Nursing Home on Strand Road in Bray which overlooks the seafront.

Staff became aware of the incident when they noticed smoke coming from underneath the toilet door. They used staff pass keys to open the door and found Mr Cronin whose ‘clothing was on fire in a serious way’ according to staff.

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Health savings would fund more doctors

The health service does not need more money to improve the service radically and about €2bn should be reallocated to provide more doctors in the system, according to Dr Edward Walsh, the founding president of the University of Limerick. Dr Walsh was speaking at the National Association of General Practitioners‘ annual general meeting in Dublin.

He said Ireland had the highest hospital prices in the OECD, as well as its most inefficient health system, and that €1.7bn would need to be taken off the health budget to make it as efficient as the average OECD country. A further €2bn would need to be taken off to make Ireland as competitive as New Zealand. Continue reading »

Basic health fees are funding top of range care deals

CONSUMERS paying a basic fee for health insurance are “cross subsidising” top-of-the-range care packages with “all the frills”, a national conference will be told next week.

Young and healthy people are also joining the exodus from private health insurance, leading to a price spiral that is “unsustainable”, according to Donal Clancy of Laya Healthcare who will address a national conference on the subject on Wednesday. Continue reading »