The Taoiseach, win­ter and the HSE

The Irish Times - - Comment & Letters -

Sir, – I am an Ir­ish doc­tor work­ing in New Zealand.

Af­ter two years here, in spite of the daily news sto­ries chron­i­cling the soap opera that is the Health Ser­vice Ex­ec­u­tive, I have de­cided to re­turn home in 2019, a de­ci­sion which has caused many here to ques­tion my san­ity. I am re­turn­ing pri­mar­ily be­cause of friends, fam­ily, and a love of Ire­land – and def­i­nitely not be­cause of a de­sire to be a sub­ject of the HSE.

There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t ag­o­nise whether I am mak­ing the right de­ci­sion.

Then I see the Taoiseach, him­self a doc­tor, us­ing such care­less lan­guage that points the fin­ger at those in the front line – the doc­tors and nurses who them­selves are never lis­tened to and have no say in the po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions which are made above them, and which greatly af­fect their clin­i­cal prac­tice and pri­vate lives.

Doc­tors and nurses do not need to work more – rather we need more doc­tors and nurses to work! It’s not rocket sci­ence.

Need­less to say, I’m not the only Ir­ish doc­tor work­ing abroad who is watch­ing at a dis­tance that gives such a clear per­spec­tive. I’m sure a good half of us will never re­turn, and the Taoiseach and the Min­is­ter for Health are do­ing a good job at mak­ing that de­ci­sion eas­ier for those who don’t. – Yours, etc, BRIAN DALY, Nel­son,

New Zealand.

A chara, – I read with in­ter­est Leo Varad­kar’s com­ment that health ser­vices should at­tempt to meet peak de­mand. All health work­ers (in­clud­ing the Taoiseach) re­alise that peak de­mands ex­tend for the en­tire win­ter sea­son. Health­care should be for life not just for Christ­mas. – Is mise,

Dr MARY O’DUFFY, Castle­blayney, Co Mon­aghan.

Sir, – While the Taoiseach has aired his views on staffing in our hospi­tals I can­not re­call him mak­ing the same com­ments when he was min­is­ter for health. Maybe he had other mat­ters on his mind. – Yours, etc, GERRY BUCK­LEY, En­nis, Co Clare.

Sir, – Re­cent me­dia com­ments by the Taoiseach to the ef­fect that “pa­tients come in and they don’t get their tests and they don’t get their di­ag­noses” over the Christ­mas pe­riod are both un­fair and un­help­ful. Med­i­cal sci­en­tists, along with their more vis­i­ble nurs­ing and med­i­cal col­leagues and the many other health­care grades, will con­tinue to work through­out this Christ­mas pe­riod, as they have ev­ery other Christ­mas, to keep hospi­tals go­ing for the many se­ri­ously ill pa­tients who need treat­ment.

Lab­o­ra­tory ser­vices are avail­able 24/7 and 365 days a year at the level ap­pro­pri­ate to the clin­i­cal needs of pa­tients. Only those who are se­ri­ously ill or who need ur­gent med­i­cal at­ten­tion at­tend hospi­tals over the Christ­mas pe­riod. On the week­ends and pub­lic hol­i­days over Christ­mas, the lab­o­ra­tory ser­vice will match ev­ery other week­end and pub­lic hol­i­day through­out the year; on the other days of the pe­riod lab­o­ra­to­ries will of­fer a full ser­vice. There are lim­ited pri­mary care and non-ur­gent ser­vices in op­er­a­tion at this time and it would not be a good use of the lim­ited re­sources to staff lab­o­ra­to­ries and other di­ag­nos­tic ser­vices at the level re­quired to sup­port such rou­tine ser­vices. Over the Christ­mas pe­riod while many in the coun­try can en­joy al­most two weeks off work, many med­i­cal sci­en­tists will strug­gle to have three days off in a row.

The Med­i­cal Lab­o­ra­tory Sci­en­tists As­so­ci­a­tion in­vites Mr Varad­kar to pay a visit to one of the hid­den parts of front­line ser­vices of any hos­pi­tal at any time over Christ­mas so that he can see for him­self how lab­o­ra­to­ries are work­ing “at full whack” through­out the pe­riod. – Yours, etc,

BRON­AGH O’LEARY, In­dus­trial Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer, Med­i­cal Lab­o­ra­tory Sci­en­tists As­so­ci­a­tion, Dublin 1.

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