Why I wouldn't mind being treated like a dog
Published 02/03/2016 | 02:30
Have you ever wondered at the difference between the service the veterinary profession provides and that which we humans receive when we are ill or injured?
We are all mammals and a broken bone in a horse or a dog is not that much different to one in a human yet I have found over the years that I can have an injured animal treated almost immediately but I myself might end up lying on a hospital trolley for days before being operated on.
One morning recently I had to bring one of my dogs to the local vet and as he was being examined, I began to marvel at the excellent service we were receiving.
The animal was x rayed within an hour of arrival, the injury was then diagnosed, discussed and fully explained. Later that evening he was operated on. We didn't have to sit in a crowded accident and emergency department while awaiting examination or worse, suffer the indignity of lying on a trolley for perhaps three days.
My visit to the vet wasn't cheap but then why should it be? In general, we get what we pay for and there is always the option of taking out insurance for such eventualities.
Some years ago a yearling colt I was preparing for sale suffered colic. It was 10pm but being very worried, I phoned the vet who arrived within 20 minutes.
Having examined the horse he advised that I load him in the horse box and bring him to the equine hospital at the Curragh.
Rather than heading home, my vet drove after me and remained with the colt until around 2am the next morning when he was judged to be over the worst.
A state of the art operating theatre was also made available to us but fortunately, surgery was not required.
What a fantastic service that was and I am sure similar stories could be related by farmers and stud owners throughout Ireland.
Try phoning your local health centre at 10pm and see what happens. Having listened to various answerphone messages, you will probably be told to drive to the nearest hospital and queue in the A&E section.
Most A&E wards are not pleasant places to be in and seem to be getting even busier.
You will encounter overworked doctors and wonderful caring nurses, all rushing around trying to cope with a workload that simply shouldn't be imposed on them.
Despite billions being spent annually on the health service, nothing seems to change and there is little point in blaming successive Governments.
The problems are not just about money but perhaps also about how we, the public, tend to overuse the health service.
Maybe this is because for most of our population, it is for the greater part free. Since free medical care for children under six was introduced there has been a 50pc increase in the number of children ending up in A&E. No surprises there. Anything free will always be overused and abused.
There are also the issues of outdated work practices, abuse of sick leave and other problems that seem to be insoluble.
It is abundantly clear we need more beds and more hospitals but then the whole business of medical care seems to be a bottomless money pit.
It is easy for me to sit here and criticise, but like everyone else, I have no idea how these issues can be easily resolved.
Successive Ministers for Health have tried to bring in improvements and appear to have continually come up against a brick wall of trade union intransigence and a bureaucratic system that inevitably creates an administrative mess with too many chiefs and not enough Indians.
I have spent time lying on a trolley in an A&E department so I write from experience. It is not pleasant to lie in a corridor with hospital staff and the public marching up and down past you and one can only pity those who are elderly and have no other option but to remain there and hope for the best.
Like veterinary care, there should be a basic charge for all medical services which could be refunded to those who cannot afford it at a later date.
All free state services, medical or otherwise should be means tested.
But that will never happen in the nanny state we live in so let us envy all those lucky animals that have caring owners and salute those unsung heroes of rural Ireland, our country vets.