Money won’t cure the ails of Ireland’s faltering health service, but Maurice Gueret says the odd medal wouldn’t go amiss
named after a New York city police commissioner and philanthropist who funded the award into perpetuity for personal bravery. There are other awards too, including bronze medals and special citations. It struck me on the day that our health service could really find a similar way of honouring those who go beyond their call of duty. A nurse, a ward cleaner, a family doctor, a chemist, a paramedic, a porter or a consultant geriatrician might all be future candidates for something like a Noel Browne memorial medal. The reward for far too many health practitioners these days is that they strike themselves off the register on the day they retire, as they can no longer fulfil the box-ticking exercise of maintaining competence. They are forgotten about, and disappear without trace. Nobody writes to say thanks. Minister Harris may not have long enough in office to make the important contribution he wants to. But he might consider a State award for a sector badly in need of a morale shot. Just one day a year when a well-chosen few might take the honours for all. steel-toe-capped boots. Aldi converted the old tram depot on the road leading into Rathgar, and the resulting architectural gem is described as its most salubrious store in Ireland. Unless you need to sit down, that is. Older people, especially those living alone, do like to get out to the shops. The small size and convenient aisles of these German supermarkets suit their needs. But every now and then, a breather is needed, or a dizzy spell may have to be averted. With the exception of checkout swivel chairs and rattan-effect garden furniture on special offer, there isn’t a single place for an ailing customer who needs a momentary sit down to do so. Not a fatal design flaw, but an inconvenient one. There has been quite a political row going on in the UK about whether patients are more likely to die in hospitals if they are admitted on Saturdays and Sundays. Well, the latest research from London is showing that mentally ill inpatients are most at risk of death on Wednesdays. Coincidentally, that’s the day that the
is on television.
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youth are fascinating. McGahern’s mother contracted breast cancer during her childbearing years, and she had to leave Leitrim to be treated. She had surgery under Mr Corcoran in the old Mater Hospital, where medical care was chargeable. There was no change from two guineas a week, when four guineas a week might have been her teacher’s income. After surgery, she cut costs by staying at a boarding house in Dun Laoghaire and travelling by tram in and out of the Mater for treatment. She had to write to her husband to reassure him that she was spending nothing in the city other than her tram fare. In a later pregnancy, her husband wished her to attend a local nursing home in Boyle, which would have been a cheaper option. But her surgeon advised she should only give birth at Holles Street hospital. So she had to leave her family in Leitrim, travel up to Dublin to stay in the small Cumberland Hotel on Westland Row, and wait for the day that her ‘healthy lump’ was born. There was the constant worry of ongoing hotel bills in the event of a late arrival. Mrs McGahern gave birth to seven children in all, some of them after her breast cancer diagnosis. She died the year after her last baby was born. Studying the health experiences of one or two generations back can have the effect of making us complain just a little less.