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Someone else’s problem… April 13, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Here’s an heartfelt request – from a nurse writing anonymously in the Irish Times. I wonder how many people this upsets as they sit down to their breakfast for he or she writes very vividly of what they experience working in a private sector hospital.

It is not the individuals but the private system as a whole – relentless in its drive for profit, blind to the concept of social responsibility and dismissive of the ethics underpinning the Hippocratic oath – that is unable to give back.


The admission forms in the private hospital sometimes say “self pay”. More often than not, these are elderly patients without medical insurance. Their conditions are so grave, unsightly or painful, they cannot afford to wait on the public list. But they cannot afford to pay for their private procedure either.


A woman in her 70s, whose single hip replacement cost in excess of €11,000, is initially delighted to be able to get around again. But soon, as retirement plans fade, a harsh reality dawns.
These patients leave the private hospital and enter a world of worry. Yes, they have homes, cars, State and sometimes private pensions. But, post-surgery, they no longer have the financial cushion that should be part and parcel of retirement, for waged and unwaged. These elderly people feel powerless, voiceless and frightened.

And a dynamic long evident in this state is outlined with painful clarity:

Or maybe I am being naive? Should I, like the HSE, limit my care to the point at which the patient exits the building? I have heard it referred to as “the horizon policy” – once they’re over the horizon they are someone else’s problem: the local GP’s problem, the public health nurse’s problem and, ultimately, the family’s problem.

This too hits home:

And not everyone has a family. I watch older, retired people waiting for visits that don’t materialise. Sometimes it is because families live too far from the city. I see the lockers without cards or chocolates. For some patients, the chaplain is the only one to come calling.
Families break down all the time, as do marriages and relationships. Hospitals aren’t able to capture that reality.

I’ve seen this too. Seen people without relatives in old peoples homes and hospitals. And how there is a bed on a ward with people visiting regularly and others where no one is to be found. Anyone with a smidgen of empathy and imagination can readily see how that can come around, so easily.
And that request, or is it a wish?

What do I want? I want everyone to have visitors, and I believe it is the duty of hospitals – private and public – to assist in that endeavour. Visits cheer people up. Patients recover faster.
I want our elderly citizens to be able to get a new hip, or have cataracts removed, without having to beg, steal or borrow. I want retired people, and pensioners who don’t have medical cover, to be recognised as a special category. If they have to take out credit union or bank loans for late-in-life operations, I think there should be a Government intervention.

It seems so little. But it seems to be beyond this society to deal with.


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