Jan 13, 2009

Yet another health care crisis

Now I may be accused of "flogging a dead Equinusian packbeast" but our health service is lacking. The Irish Times highlights yet another flaw in the system, that is possibly fatal.

BOTH PRIVATE and public patients must wait up to 18 months before being seen by a consultant neurologist, a review of neurology services has found.

It also found that patients being assessed on an outpatient basis have to wait 10 months for an MRI scan and 90 days for an EEG test of the brain.

Well it's too late to ask Lenihan for a new Health Services Executive. Let's cross our fingers and hope that our entire health system doesn't collapse before next year's budget. Cos hope is all that we have left. There is the possibility that people may end up robbing valium just to deal with the stress of that pesky clot in the brain and an 18 month waiting list.

So while you are stressing about the ticking clock the HSE is commissioning reports and paying administrators.

The report, commissioned by the Health Service Executive and drawn up by senior HSE managers, consultants, nurses, allied health professionals, GPs and patient advocates, found that inpatients may have to wait up to two weeks to see a therapist or a psychologist, “thereby prolonging their length of hospital stay”.

“Outpatient services were considerably less accessible with many patients waiting between three to six months for a minimal service and in some cases, no service at all,” it states.

The report, which took two years to research and complete under the chairmanship of the then assistant national director of strategic health planning with the HSE, Dr Marie Laffoy, deals with conditions such as dementia, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and acquired brain injury.

Despite some recent investment, it paints a bleak picture for patients seeking diagnosis and treatment of potentially life threatening conditions.

Well it sucks to be them. Better hope that you don't get sick no matter how much health insurance you pay.

A consultant neurologist quoted in the report says: “I am aware that some patients travel to other countries to see a neurologist because of the delays here – I know of one patient who was seen in Stuttgart and another who went to Scotland.”

Why is this not setting alarm bells off? Why can other countries manage their health systems and still provide free health care? Why can hospitals in some developing countries provide high standard health care for a reasonable price tag but one of the most expensive countries in Europe cannot.

The HSE says funding of €3 million was provided in 2006 for the development of neurology and neurophysiology services, and that there are 24 approved posts of consultant neurologist, an increase of 10 since 2003.

If the budget is there, why have vacant posts? Is it jobs for the boys or incompetence?

I am bitter about health care in Ireland since 2004 when I paid 150 euro to see a consultant about a potentially life-threatening condition. He spent five minutes with me, did no physical examination and when I asked about the condition, told me to go look it up on the internet. I was then bundled out the door. I sent letters of complaint but they went unanswered.

To me, the most fantastic aspect of the health care crisis in Ireland is that there was no journalistic outrage when Mary Harney stood up beside Brian Cowen and Micheál Martin and blamed former ministers of health for the systemic problems. The two previous ministers for health were standing beside her. How does that go unremarked?

It's enough to make one want to run for office if only to expose FF incompetance.

Believe it or not health is a human right. It states clearly in the "Right to Health Factsheet No 31" that.

The right to health contains entitlements. These entitlements include:

  • The right to a system of health protection providing equality of opportunity for everyone to enjoy the highest attainable level of health;
  • The right to prevention, treatment and control of diseases;
  • Access to essential medicines;
  • Maternal, child and reproductive health;
  • Equal and timely access to basic health services;
  • The provision of health-related education and information;
  • Participation of the population in health-related decision-making at the national and community levels.

Yeah the government is required to provide timely access to basic health services. So step up Minister.


hexy said...

Jeebus... that's horrifying!

Running through my head are all the various conditions that I know of that need neurologist attention and neural scans to be diagnosed or treated. It's a huge list, and that's just what I know!

Mór Rígan said...

Exactly hexy. It makes each new new episode of House that much more terrifying.

Ireland used to be a developed country with socialised medicine but now we can't even provide necessary services. Makes me crazy (er)