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Health and Serious Matters

I hope you read the Northern Standard this week especially the articles by Peter Hughes on Health Matters. He outlines a very gloomy and frightening  picture of our future health services in Monaghan and elsewhere in the country but then it was not he who made up the story but that is what he heard when he attended the Public Meeting on Health organised by Senator Robbie Gallagher last week. Dr. Illona Duffy, Martin McKenna representing CombiLift, Stephen Donnelly TD Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Health were all speakers and Dr. Butt, who is the Emergency Medicine Consultant in charge of Cavan A & E and the Minor Injuries Unit in Monaghan was to speak but for some reason he had to pull out though I did meet him prior to the meeting. I was asked to step into the breach even though I had nothing prepared but then it is very easy to talk as there are so many issues that can be highlighted.

The frightening part is that very soon we will not have enough GPs to provide Primary Care to the people of Monaghan, as is the case in many areas of the country. At the moment all the GPs working in Monaghan have their lists full and they cannot take on new patients but when retirements take place over the next couple of years the remaining GPs will not be able to care for the patients on the retirees’ lists. Modern Health Care is being based on the expansion of Primary Care and Primary Care Centres are being built but there are no GPs to go into these Primary Care centres – waste of money! Regarding Monaghan General Hospital (notice how all the hospitals in the country are now referred to as – placename University Hospital – e.g. Kerry University Hospital and even Roscommon University Hospital !!??) we are going to get ‘4’ extra Rehabilitation Beds – Hooray, they have been promised to us for years now and are still not there. That will be some expansion for Monaghan but will it be any help to all those who find themselves in an emergency. At the moment a number of the clinics held in Monaghan are under threat and will likely transfer to Cavan and so Monaghan General Hospital takes a step closer to what we forecast – a Nursing Home.

The Minor Injuries Unit is working at quarter capacity if even that. People are not using it and it is capable of doing so much more and we encourage more people to use it. However there are problems with that – It is reported that X-rays can take up to 3 weeks to get results, the Unit is not open when needed most – evenings and weekends. I stated, and Dr. Butt had agreed with me, that a huge number of ambulance cases taken to Cavan could have been treated faster and just as efficiently in Monaghan. However the protocol does not allow Ambulance personnel to take patients to Monaghan. That could be changed. Paramedics on ambulances are expected to treat patients on the spot and in conjunction with a doctor make the decision as to which hospital the patient should go and if an air ambulance is required and they have to sustain life for whatever length of time all that requires. Could the decision not be made similarly to take the not-so serious emergencies to Monaghan? That would save overcrowding in Cavan/Drogheda,  it would save money due to less travelling by the ambulance, and it would mean that the ambulance would be back in service much faster as they do not have to spend time on the Monaghan/Cavan road. We have been told that they are having difficulty in getting sufficient numbers of paramedics to man the existing ambulances and if this is so where are they getting the six extra paramedics they have promised to site in Monaghan?  We will continue to demand more opening hours in the Minor Injuries Unit and more day services for Monaghan with the ability for an overnight stay if necessary.

Stephen Donnelly, not like other politicians, did not tell us he would ‘fight, fight fight to get our hospital back’ but did say that he would push to get the 4 extra beds. He then explained the finances of the situation and the amount of money it would take to develop services. However the elephant in the room – where is the present allocation of funding being spent/wasted. Per head of population we spend more than most countries on Health but have one of the worst services with over 700,000 people, including children, waiting for an appointment, hundreds lavishing in overcrowded A & E’s, thousands waiting for a surgical procedure, and hundreds dying each year as a result of overcrowding, delays and mistakes. No one seems to know where the money is being spent!! I stated that we elect Public Representatives to represent our interests and they do not know how my tax is being spent??? I said that it is time our politicians became responsible and found out how our taxes are being wasted and it is time we the people of this country started to ask the questions and demand answers from our politicians. An election will be coming up soon and I encouraged everyone to make Health THE BIG issue for the election and ensure that our politicians are held to account. It is also time that we the people had a say in the amount of money politicians themselves can claim as wages and expenses.

I also asked that the Minister for Health, as a matter of urgency, found out the reason why nurses, doctors and consultants don’t want to work in Ireland and then change that and make it an attractive proposition to work here and then he might be able to employ more front line staff and be able to open more beds. As he does not seem to be willing to do that we can only assume that he is happy to blame them for leaving but does not want them back as that would cost money, which is being wasted somewhere in the system.

Re. Ambulance response times for North Monaghan, especially during the roadworks – I was told that until we raised the matter the National Ambulance Service (NAS) was unaware that roadworks were taking place on the N2 to Emyvale, even though the contractor had begun work on site three weeks earlier. There is now an agreement whereby emergency ambulances will get priority to and from call-outs in North Monaghan but that if anything happens they will hold a review of this arrangement. To us that means – let’s wait to see if someone dies as a result of a delayed ambulance and then we will have a review – and that is playing with people’s lives and is not acceptable. We must make our feelings known at the next election.

 

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