Lise Hand: A stark choice between pay and patients
As our finances come under more international scrutiny and pressure, Maeve Sheehan looks at the 'soft targets' who may fare worst when it comes to cutbacks
OVER the past year, Tom Clifford has observed at first hand the kind of bureaucratic nonsense that gives the health service a bad name. A relative suffered a stroke.
As she recovered, she needed a pair of custom-made boots to help correct her feet. She had already been fitted with a splint by a private company in Galway. The company offered to make the custom-made boots. As the health service was footing the bill, approval was required from the Health Service Executive (HSE). But the HSE said such customised boot fittings were done "in house" by the "aids and appliances" department.
So Tom, a health campaigner, and his relative, who live in Clare, returned to the HSE in Ennis to be fitted. They saw two HSE podiatrists, followed by an appointment with a third who dispatched the order to a company in the UK. The order sat on the desk of the aids and appliances section which passed it on to the finance committee which sent it back to the aids and appliances section, from where it was dispatched to the UK this month. Tom's relative has been told she might have the boots by January. Tom counted up 11 employees of the HSE involved in ordering a single pair of custom-made boots. The customised boots will cost the HSE about €500, according to Tom.