A health service sicker than its patients

DON’T GET sick.
That’s the only option if you live in north Dublin or its commuter counties in light of this HSE plan.
And if you do become unwell be prepared to wait. And wait. And wait.
Because there’s no way you can remove €120m and 961 staff from a health service without seriously disrupting patient services.
Or worse, causing deaths that could be avoided.
The HSE or the Health minister’s spindoctors usually try to explain away cutback stories as best they can.
But when the HSE itself baldly admits that direct patient services will suffer then you know the diagnosis is bad.
The cuts will affect some of the State’s biggest hospitals – the Mater, Beaumont and Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda, to name but three.
Unfortunately these facilities are already among the country’s busiest.
At this stage a visit to A&E is essentially a day-long expedition – even for a minor ailment.
With €71m now set to be pulled directly from hospitals who knows what state emergency departments will be in over the coming months.
According to the HSE there is already a lack of staff on frontline service delivery.
So those nurse, doctors and paramedics bravely battling at the coalface are set to be, simply, swamped.
Outside the hospitals themselves the cuts will, as always, hit the vulnerable, such as the elderly, those require home visits or those with mental health problems.
The Dublin North East cuts are part of €750m that will be slashed from health spending this year. This comes after cuts of €727m last year.
One wonders how much more our health service can take before it begins to collapse.
One thing’s certain: we’ve reached a new low when the system itself is sicker than the patients it treats.

This post first appeared in the Evening Herald, February 15, 2012.

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