Private or Public?

To my regular readers – I apologise for hitting the same topic twice in succession.

I just want to say this bit and then hopefully go onto something more lively.

My Dearest Mary Harney,

I would like to tell you the story of two patients.

Patient A went into hospital for some tests a couple of weeks ago. The tests threw up some anomalies that concerned the doctor, so the doctor personally brought Patient A across for blood tests, a CT scan and an MRI scan. The doctor then waited for the results which thankfully were clear. Patient A went home after five hours.

Patient B has a spinal problem. Patient B collapsed and was brought by ambulance to hospital where they were promptly discharged with a prescription for Valium. Patient B collapsed again a week later, in severe agony, and was brought straight to hospital. Patient B arrived at the hospital at 5.30pm and was placed in a wheelchair. At 2.30am [yes – nine hours later], patient B was x-rayed. The doctors refused to give out the results of the x-ray as there was confusion as to whether Patient B was Emergency or Elective, and they wouldn’t give results because of protocols. Still in severe pain and barely able to move, Patient B leaves the hospital in total frustration at 8am, having received no treatment whatsoever.

Patient A was on VHI Plan D and went to the Beacon Clinic.
Patient B was on VHI Plan B and went to Tallaght Hospital were they were treated as a public patient.

Mary, my love.. You promise a bright future for the Health Service. You talk about great things. You talk about the massive increases in budgets for the Health System. The HSE is to solve all the problems.

Mary, my dear.. You have been in the job for three years. Nothing has been done. The system is in melt down. People are literally dying because they are relying on you. You have failed, and you have failed miserably.

Mary, my petal.. If you were an employee, you would have been sacked years ago for gross incompetence, wasting company resources, and generally being a waste of space.

I am a peaceful bloke. I have never wished harm on anyone before. But……..

I sincerely hope that you come down with a dose of cancer or syphilis or something nasty, and that through a mix-up, you get treated as an ordinary person off the street. I hope you have to wait for hours to be treated, while in agony. I hope you are misdiagnosed and sent home. I hope you have to plead for treatment, and get stuck with the drunks and the drug addicts while you are ignored. I hope the pain is severe.

Maybe then, you will realise how miserably you have failed.

Maybe then you will have the decency and humanity to resign and fuck off into obscurity.

Lots of love,

Grandad

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Comments

Private or Public? — 31 Comments

  1. Off course not you are absolutely right it is outrageous. I know there is a lot of media attention at the moment but in a couple of weeks it will all be forgotten about, why aren’t people doing something about it? There should be protests and strikes and uproar.

  2. Yeah I would but they are as big a shower of crooks as the government. I know exactly what you are saying I have the VHI C policy and I still have to pay 120-180 Euro every time I see a consultant. My own Grandmother who had worked hard all her live, raising her family etc had the B policy but spent hours and hours on a trolley in ST James dying. Sending letters is good but at times it is like pissing against the wind. People need to get out there and protest. The thing is everybody has different interest’s, your issue maybe with A&E mine at the moment is Our Lady’s hospital in Crumlin there is no solidarity or unity.

  3. Good one Grandad!

    I told you – life is like a ‘Sh*t Sandwich’ – whichever way you look at it.

    The more bread you have,
    the less sh*t you have to eat

    and

    The less bread you have,
    the more sh*t you have to eat

    Mary Harney doesn’t know which side her bread is buttered on!

  4. A number of years ago Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Drogheda was managed by an order of nuns. Before the HSE was even an idea in someones head the North Eastern Health Board took over control. Since then the overall service in the hospital has been in decline.

    Over the last 6 – 7 years I personally know 4 individuals who, for various reasons and at various times, had to have x-rays taken of injured areas. All 4 people were sent home with painkillers and were diagnosed with severe or deep brusing.

    After a time all these individuals had to have more x-rays taken as the injuries hadn’t improved.

    One person had a broken arm, another a broken jaw, another a broken leg and finally, the last, a 2 year old baby had to have it’s arm rebroken and then set.

    A few years ago I had to have minor surgery which was cancelled 3 times due to a lack of beds. Eventually, the surgeons office rang me to ask if I could travel to Dundalk for the surgery as they were fed up with the situation.

    These are just a handful of mild examples of how the overall service has declined in one hospital. I know other hospitals could tell more severe stories.

    The nuns successfully managed that hospital, so why can’t we just revert to the way things were…….. when they worked.

    By the way Grandad, you weren’t talking to me the other night, I wasn’t even there. Besides, I consider myself normal for a “Computery person”.

  5. Nonny,

    I don’t buy into the idea that everybody is corrupt – if that was the case, you wouldn’t bother with anything – and I have taken part in numerous protest marches in Dublin and have not seen much change on any of the issues about which people were marching. (did standing on O’Connell Bridge change the Burmese government? No) Marches are fine for building solidarity amongst people taking part, most times they are an annoyance to onlookers and are ignored by politicians.

    Changing things demands changing the minds of the people in power which means you have to confront people with your case.

  6. I was there and I didn’t mean everybody is corrupt. That is a fair point though Ian sometimes it doesn’t work and if that is the case take some other form of action like your local politician or strike or something. By writing letters, protesting etc it keeps it in the spotlight. It just seems terrible that the HSE and Herney can do what the like and are not held accountable.

  7. And then we have patient C who has a lump in her breast and is bleeding, but no one seems to give a shit because she’s under thirty. She’s been waiting for a scan for over three weeks only to have the scan request sent back to her GP. Worst case scenario if it is cancer she could be dead by the time they get around to seeing her. And this is as a private patient.

    Well put Grandad.

  8. Oh Grandad, I feel your fury from here, and I can totally understand it.

    I come from a third world country (in spite of the little Union Jack that will appear next to my name when I post this comment), and have been appalled at the health care (?) system in the UK. I can only assume that it is much the same in Ireland, due to accounts like yours and to stories from my cousin who worked there as a GP.

    I long ago decided that, the day I find a lump (and chances are pretty high, if heredity has anything to do with it), I am going to put myself and my lump together on a plane and head back to my third world homeland for treatment!

    I reckon I stand a better chance of survival that way.

  9. Hey Karyn,

    What third world country are you talking about? If the health system in this country doesn’t improve I’ll need to know what other country can provide decent care.

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  11. Karyn,

    My sister had breast cancer in England three years ago and got brilliant health care in Bristol Royal Infirmary.

    There is no proper health service here, it’s mostly private with a “safety net” public system that’s meant to look after people who can’t afford private insurance. Even going to the GP demands cash payments at the reception (very different from England).

    It’s a fundamentally unjust system presided over by a minister whose only object in life seems to be to retain her office and her salary by blaming everyone else.

  12. Sorry for not joining in today.

    I have spent the day with Patient B who is still in agony and drugged to the eyeballs. The only good thing to come out of it is that an operation, scheduled for next January has been pulled forward to Monday week.

    And that was after a lot of shouting on the phone.

    Even Joe Duffy was standing by at one stage!!!

  13. I must be one of the lucky ones
    I don’t have health insurance, so it costs me nothing to cue in a&e, or wait 2 years for ops. I’m saving a fortune

  14. I see stuff like this and it makes my blood boil. There was a bit of to and fro in earlier replies about getting out and protesting and so on, but that will achieve nothing.

    All that we can do is get the current crass, inept, arrogant, wasteful government out of office. And guess what, we had the chance a few months ago and voted the same shower of bastards back in.

    Not only are we poor as a nation about speaking out and demanding better, when we get screwed we’re only too eager to bend over all over again and gladly hand Bertie the vaseline. And then let him have a pay-increase for it.

    And if there was an election tomorrow, FF and PD would STILL get back in, that’s how messed up people are in this country.

  15. Well done Grandad a case of, “He Who Screams The Loudest Gets The Mostâ€?, terrible that that’s what it takes but a well deserved victory nonetheless. I hope patients B makes a full recovery with as little pain as possible!

  16. Emptyhead: The country I refer to is South Africa.

    However, a bit of a proviso is called for. As in Ireland, free medical is only on offer to those without medical insurance. Everything else is private. Most salary packages include a company medical insurance scheme, with the company paying about 50% and the employee paying the rest. This insurance will then cover the whole family. It does, however, mean paying towards medical attention, since the insurance doesn’t always cover everything.

    BUT, should you go to hospital, every cent is covered, from the moment you are admitted until the moment you leave, and the private hospitals are like flipping hotels – someone comes around with a menu to take your meal orders every day. Depending on what you’re in for, you might even get wine with your meal!!!!!

    Also, if you need surgery, the turnaround time is phenomenal. My husband once saw a doctor on the Tuesday and had his surgery on the Thursday of the same week.

    Under the private medical scheme, patients are seen as customers, and doctors as service providers… which is as it should be under any system, as far as I’m concerned!

    What I find difficult to adjust to is the lack of preventative medicine practised here. Apologies if this is too much information for some, but in South Africa, women have annual smear test from the age of about 16. Also and annual palpation for lumps and, if you want it, an annual mammogram. Because of my family history (all three of my Dad’s sisters), I wanted it! When I arrived here, I assumed it would be the same, but was advised that I was too young and that my family history was irrelevant because the heredity was on my father’s side rather than my mother’s (don’t let’s go there!!!).

    I am now older than two of my aunts were when they first developed breast cancer, and I am terrified! Of course I self-examine, but I’m not qualified to do this properly.

  17. hear hear.i’m with tony i save a fortune by just waiting for treatment.its only a couple of years now …two tier health system nothing that was last year or was it the year before that ,now its a game of chance!

  18. This is an endemic problem in Western society. Those who can afford health care get it, those who can’t wait. We have a very similar problem here with our hospitals in crisis. Not enough doctors or beds. The Federal government gives money to the States for Health Care and the States choose how it is spent. With a Liberal fed and Labour States its a blame game back and forth. Recently, women (yes plural) have miscarried in emergency waiting rooms without any attention and a man was sent home after an ECG as ‘fine’ only to suffer a heart attack a few hours later. I’m about to have major surgery in a private hospital. I pay handsomely for the priviledge but still my surgeon and anaethetist will charge more than my cover allows.It’s called ‘the gap’ as well as an excess for the first night’s ‘accommodation’. I will be out of pocket by about $2000 despite paying $300 a month for the past zillion years for the privelidge of being operated upon and staying in a hospital where I can choose my meals. I will not be voting for the current government on November 24th and the new one had better get it right or there will be open revolt out here.

    Grandad, I agree with a previous commenter. You should send this post to the newspapers, get on tabloid TV and enrage the nation.

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  20. Glad to have found your blog with comments here providing a perspective from additional countries about their systems. The USA has to “fix” our health care system and I’m real concerned about just how we’ll go about it. What I’m reading here just accentuates what we must be careful to prevent happening in whatever system we devise. Think that’s possible?

    I just wrote a piece on my blog about “timely delivery of services” for non-life threatening ailments, also the lack of care for our veterans. We certainly have to make some provision for all those without any insurance.

  21. Grandad,
    Taking your anecdotes as an accurate and unbiased description of events*, I presume from your conclusion that the best way to go would be to close down every public hospital and allow the private sector (Beacon et al) to do its best.

    I say * because while I’ve no doubt that the Beacon provided excellent healthcare tp Patient A, I wonder if the story wasn’t a bit more involved. Perhaps the Beacon Doctor also practices in the public sector. Perhaps (s)he gets paid a very large public sector salary for a 33 hour week and still is able to work in the shiny new Beacon. Perhaps having gotten to the top of the consultant tree, (s)he is blocking the appointments of any more consultants in his/her specialty. Perhaps (s)he is demanding €250,000 per annum for his/her 33 hour week from the Govt – on top of the earnings he/she makes in the Beacon. Perhaps Patient A didn’t realise that she/he is paying twice for the same healthcare. And maybe, that the blood sample taken in the private hospital was dispatched across to the public hospital for analysis. Maybe the lab manager in the public hospital is faced with a choice. Test a public sample and get €x or test the private sample and get €10x. And given that his/her lab has been under-resourced for years, the lab manager might have no economic choice but to give priority to the private sample. And perhaps the doctor in the public hospital knows that there is little point taking a blood sample for analysis ‘cos the hospital lab is too busy testing private hospital samples.

    I could go on and on. The important thing is that Patient A and Patient B get the treatment that they deserve. The problem, I would respectfully suggest might not be all Mary Harney’s doing. Perhaps it isn’t possible to have a public and a private system working side-by-side. Perhaps we can only have one or other. The public model is bedevilled by self-interest and inefficiency ; The private model is bedevilled by profit-maximising motive.

    Paige
    P.S. I’d have a lot more sympathy with your story had you not wished illness on someone who -however misguided – is at least trying to make a difference.

  22. Hi Paige,
    My post is based on events as they happened. Patient A was my wife and patient B was my daughter’s partner.
    I am in no way advocating the closing the public sector in favour of the private.
    I wrote the piece to highlight the difference between the two. Every person in this country should have a right to primary health care. We are paying enough taxes and [by your own figures] thirteen billion of those taxes are going into the public health system. But where is it going? I merely wrote about the Beacon to contrast a system where you can get immediate attention if you are prepared to pay privately, but that you are left on the shelf if you can’t.
    Of course I don’t know anything about the doctor who treated my wife. I didn’t ask how much she was paid and I didn’t ask if she worked in the public sector. All I know is that at the hint of a malignant growth, my wife was fast-tracked through the system and in less than a week had had all the required tests, and an operation.
    In contrast my daughter’s partner had to leave the hospital in disgust after waiting nearly 15 hours in severe pain and getting very little attention. He is having an operation on his back next week. This is because he is going private. Otherwise, it would be some time next year.
    People are dying because of this setup. It is that serious. There is a lot of arguing over who is to blame – let’s blame the consultants, or the HSE or the nurses or whoever. The point is that it is up to the minister to sort out the mess ultimately. You make the point that the public model is bedevilled by self interest and innefficiency. It is up to the minister to sort that out, either personally, or by directive to the HSE.
    I don’t give a damn about who is being too greedy or who is wasting resources. What I do give a damn about is that people are dying because of the mess, and others are suffering needlessly.
    The crack about Harney and cancer was made in a moment of exasperation. You can be damned sure that if she had a health problem [if? hah!] she would have every doctor in the land around her bed. If she came out of her ivory tower and had to experience the system as the rest of us have to, she might take a different perspective on things.

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  26. Grandad said: “I don’t give a damn about who is being too greedy or who is wasting resources. What I do give a damn about is that people are dying because of the mess, and others are suffering needlessly.
    The crack about Harney and cancer was made in a moment of exasperation. You can be damned sure that if she had a health problem [if? hah!] she would have every doctor in the land around her bed. If she came out of her ivory tower and had to experience the system as the rest of us have to, she might take a different perspective on things.”

    I do. I care about who is beig too greedy and who is wasting (our natural) resources. I care about the greedy sociopaths who have control of our (my mother) country!

    I think the Irish people, as a whole, are stupid to let the lunatics in their midst dictate to them. How did THAT ludicrous situation come about? Hint: Roman Catholicism.

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