‘Absolute bedlam’

De Facto

De Facto
Liamy MacNally

“I think there is very little point in calling the current situation a ‘crisis’ when it is in fact the new normal state of affairs. ‘Crisis’ implies a departure from the usual operating procedure. This is anything but that. The HSE seems absolutely incapable of adequately planning for what at this point are predictable strains on the system.
“Every year they seem to be completely taken off guard and it is simply not acceptable. I warned the Minister for Health in November during a debate on health insurance that as sure as night follows day we were going to see dire situations emerging in our A&Es over the Christmas and New Year period.
“Minister Harris assured us all at the time, however, that work on yet another health service capacity review was ‘progressing within the Department’ and that the review will be ‘more comprehensive than any previous capacity review.’
“This is the stuff of nonsense. It is blatantly clear that the problem in the health service, just like that in housing, is capacity. There are simply not enough beds and that is having an extremely detrimental impact on the entire system.”
An excerpt from a statement by Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath on the hospital trolley crisis… from January 2018.
Two things have changed in the last five years: the crisis has worsened and the ministers have changed, from Simon Harris to Stephen Donnelly.
Earlier this month Mattie was out of the traps again on the trolley crisis, claiming that there are fewer hospital beds in 2023 than in 1980.
“The lack of hospital beds is the primary cause of this crisis,” he said. “In fact, a staggering 35 percent of the acute hospital bed capacity has been removed from the public system since 1980. Today, the number of acute hospital beds in Ireland is among the lowest across both the EU and OECD countries. In 1980, the number of beds per 1,000 population was 9.1. In 2023, that figure was stripped down to a mere 2.2 beds per 1,000 people living here.”
He continued, “In raw numbers, Ireland had 17,665 acute hospital beds in 1980 when our population was 3.4 million. Now, with a population of 5.12 million, successive governments have allowed our bed numbers to drop to only 11,337.”
People who make successive bad decisions based on failed policies need to be reminded that their stupidity (is there a better word for it?) has a major negative impact of people’s lives.
The two main parties of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and their wingmen/women in Labour and the Greens are responsible for this. They are aided and abetted by a sludge of careerists in the health service who value their own positions ahead of the health of patients.
Rather than develop and expand services at ‘local’ hospitals their services have been reduced and in some cases depleted. Now amidst the crisis some have to be ‘reopened’ to deal with the ongoing problems. Someone somewhere just isn’t getting it!
The Rural Independents Dáil Group fully support the recent call by the Irish Hospital Consultants Association for 5,000 extra acute beds to be provided urgently.
Back to Mattie: “You have bed mangers, ward mangers, linen managers, floor mangers, hygiene managers – you have managers for every word in the alphabet, they are not being managed. There is absolute bedlam. We want to have fancy names then and remove the saints’ names and put ‘University Hospital’. All people want is when they’re sick to go into hospital and get proper treatment. Every year when Christmas comes the system closes down literally for two weeks on management side and they come back then to this mess every year. It is as predictable as when Santa comes that this is going to happen.”     
We, as a country, have a great capacity to respond positively to crises, yet seeing our own health service as a crisis seems to be beyond the vision of most politicians and health managers. Change is needed urgently in political and institutional health services to correct failed policies and stubborn positions.
It is time to concentrate on the needs of people. It is called dignity.