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Your Health is Your Wealth I am very disappointed that Health is not a major issue during this election campaign. The system is bursting at the seams, thousands of patients are waiting to get an appointment; thousands, including hundreds of children, are waiting for surgery; hundreds have to lie on trolleys for hours before they get a bed; our GPs are overworked with full lists of patients and no replacements for retirees; our nurses are stressed trying to do the work of two or more; we are short almost 2,000 consultants and little hope of getting them to come to work in Ireland; our ambulance service needs resources and more personnel and more ambulances; our mental health services are totally inadequate; our homecare and home help system cannot satisfy demand so that beds can be freed up in our hospitals; and the list of problems in our health system goes on and on. People are dying because of the overcrowding in hospitals and delays in diagnosis and treatment - and that is coming from the Consultants, not me. The government is making health care free for greater and greater numbers but no extra resources available. The cost of the Children’s Hospital will reach €2.6billion – remember that figure and not the original €670million announced when the decision was made. No party has given me any hope that they will tackle the problem or even have an idea as to how they will improve the service. Indeed if all candidates had donated the money they have spent on Posters, Billboards, leaflets and newsletters it would have helped ease the suffering of a fair number of suffering patients, who are patiently waiting. Monaghan General Hospital could have and still can ease the problem by being allowed to do more and by extending the Minor Injuries Unit to cover the times of the week when most injuries and sicknesses occur. I sincerely hope that our Health Services will become an issue prior to election day as we all know – Our Health is our Wealth. Health – an expensive service! The Health Service just continues to astound and where things in the past may have gobsmacked us it is difficult to put a term on the current mess. I announced at a public meeting in the Four Seasons Hotel on January 9th of this year that the final figure for the Children’s Hospital would be more than €2billion and no one batted an eyelid. I don’t think anyone believed me but I had it on good authority and if I knew that surely the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health knew it too. The original cost of the Children’s Hospital was to be €450 million. Then with the move to St. James Hospital site it went up to €650million and then €930 million. Who really wanted the hospital at St. James’s? Who pulled the strings to get it there? Why was Connolly Hospital site and the free Greenfield site off the M50 both rejected? If it is going to be the ‘bees knees’ of a hospital for children why did it need another tertiary hospital beside it? Were they going to share staff and cut down on costs? It appears now also that the Taoiseach and Minister knew of the €1.4billion price tag last August but said nothing. Were they playing Monopoly with our money? Did they give it the go-ahead quietly without telling us? Did they not take steps then to ask why it happened and who let this happen and was this the final figure and who messed up and why? Did any other politicians know the situation? One man may now have left his post and in a way he is taking responsibility but it will make little difference and will not change the cost just as those who resigned because of the CervicalCheck debacle. But why did the Government not know what was going on and take steps much earlier to halt the mad rush to billions of our money, money which was badly needed to improve services in other sections of health and for the thousands of patients waiting on their treatment. Right – so they didn’t do anything but now they are going to. They are going to get a commission of enquiry to find out what happened to make the cost go up. That Commission is going to cost up to €450,000 – yes almost Half a Million of our money will go down the drain as we know what has happened but the Commission is not allowed to blame anyone or try to point the finger at anyone in particular – it was the system was to blame. Where have we heard that before? So another large lump of our money will be wasted on this enquiry which does not report back till end of March but in the meantime the work goes on and the cost continue to rise and by then it will be €1.7 billion but extra fittings etc. will push it eventually over €2billion but I am telling now that by the time it is opened, if it is finished, it will have soaked up €2.5billion of our money. The Government needs to find the problem and point the finger but the Taoiseach and Minister must share the blame for not knowing what was going on, for doing nothing to halt the spend when they learned about the spiralling costs and to let us know what was happening. We heard nothing but €13 + million has been spent on communications for the new hospital. The Taoiseach in the Sunday Independent tries to justify the increase in costs - so if he knows the reason and how it has happened he should tell us and there will be no need for the Commission but how this whole affair has been handled is totally unacceptable. He also says that when it is completed we will all be proud of it and forget the cost. That may be for those for whom the economic downturn has come around full circle and are in the money but for the rest still struggling to make ends meet and for those who will have treatment delayed and suffer extra months of waiting and the families of those who die as a result of the delay may have a different outlook on the overspend. Let’s get a bit of accountability and responsibility in this country and get leadership from those claiming to be leaders. We could still build that Children’s Hospital elsewhere for less than this one is going to cost. We have a Taoiseach Department, a Minister for Health department, we have a Department of finance, we have a Department for Health, we have a huge organisation called the HSE, and all of these cannot run our health services. To build this hospital it appears that there are 5 different committees (Boards) in charge of the project and they cannot organise the process to get a hospital built within budget. There is more than one man who needs to leave his post – we are not getting value for money in any sense in all this. The second mess-up is the Nurses strike. Anyone who may have read some of my utterances on Health matters over the past decade will know that I have continually stated that the Government needs to sit down with the Nurses and doctors to find out why so few will stay here in Ireland to work in our Health Services and to make whatever changes necessary to retain sufficient staff to attend to our patients in safety. But NO, that could not be done!!!??? Let’s look at it this way – if you discover a small fire starting in one room of your house will you just ignore it until the roof is ablaze and the whole house in danger and then call the Fire Brigade hoping to save the house. Well Nurses unrest was simmering for many a year and became very apparent in 2008 and here we are ten years later and it has burst into flames and is about to reach the rafters. Surely the Government will do something before it is too late for patients, before the entire system collapses? They might blame a lack of money, which they had to give themselves a handsome rise in salary and they might blame Brexit - Brexit? – We don’t need Brexit to destroy our economy.