Wednesday 28 September 2016

Our problem is too much medicine, not enough common sense

Published 09/01/2016 | 02:30

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar speaking to media at St James’s Hospital, Dublin, during a tour of A&E wards earlier this week.
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar speaking to media at St James’s Hospital, Dublin, during a tour of A&E wards earlier this week.

In Old Ireland, 'Brehon Law' offered the provision that a freeman might sit outside the house of his debtor and starve himself to death in order to shame his oppressor into recompense. An evolution of this was seen in the Hunger Strikes of the 1980s.

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Self-imposed starvation has been with the Irish as a political tool that reaches back as far as our mythology. What defines this self-imposed abuse is the fact that there should be no other form of redress, and as such it is a last resort and the most potent appeal to one's oppressor.

If you brought your car to the mechanic to fix a puncture and instead he offered you a box of steak knives, you would reasonably consider him to be unhinged. Yet when we are presented with the ill-health of our health service in the guise of overcrowding at A&Es, we invariably seek to apply a solution that is in fact the cause of the malaise.

More money, more beds, study grants, promotions for nurses and longer tea breaks, etc, is not the solution to crammed A&Es, it is part of the problem. Perhaps the reason we apply the usual and utterly ineffectual 'solution' of 'more money' and 'more beds' is that we remain a nation of beggars and peasants, and apply the outstretched cap as the primary solution to almost all of our problems.

What I mean by this assertion is that perhaps we Irish have yet to take ownership of Ireland, and ownership of our problems. We remain entirely fixed within the colonial and post-colonial mindset of the 'big other'; London, the landlord or the Government/HSE will solve our problems by simply giving us more money.

As such it is our important job to scream loudly and beg for more and more of the same, and to starve ourselves until it is forthcoming.

Bizarrely, in Ireland most if not all doctors have worked or trained in A&E, and most if not all doctors are entirely aware that somewhere in the region of 70-80pc of those presenting to A&E could easily be managed in the community.

Some 30-40pc of emergency presentations are simply presenting with a medicalised form of anxiety, depression, or a dependence of some kind. Some 10-20pc of hospital beds are blocked by the elderly because they have nowhere to go. Some 70-80pc of casualty presentations are entirely inappropriate, and anyone working in a lab or scanning facility anywhere in the land will readily accept that 80-90pc of all scans, X-rays and blood tests yield entirely normal results.

The problem is not a shortage of medicine but rather too much medicine, too many doctors, too many beds and too many nurses with too many tea breaks.

The problem is not a shortage of medicine but rather a shortage, or complete absence of common sense.

Dr Marcus de Brun

Rush Family Practice,

Co Dublin

Are A&Es run by Basil Fawlty?

The response to the ongoing A&E crisis would almost be comical if it were not so serious. Asking the people to stay away from A&E departments brings to mind the legendary antics of Basil Fawlty, who would run a perfectly good hotel if it wasn't for the guests.

The current Government - who have had five years to address what has been termed a national emergency - should hang their heads in shame.

Gerard Reynolds


Dublin 14

Benefits of working from home

As far back as 20 years ago, I listened to suggestions that people should be encouraged to work from home for all or part of their week but little has happened since.

Why not reactivate the concept which would :

(1) Free up the M50 and other congested routes;

(2) Alleviate motorists' stress;

(3) Improve family life;

(4) Decrease air pollution;

(5) Save on motoring costs.

Modern technology lends itself to teamwork without the members being physically present together in a room. The argument that employees would miss the contact/camaraderie which working together provides surely pales into insignificance when compared to leaving/returning home in darkness and driving bumper-to-bumper for an hour or more each way.

Sheila Ward

Carraig Mhachaire Rois, Co Mhuineacháin

A daily dose of cynicism?

Your headline article on Wednesday, "Another talking shop: Coalition's response to the flooding crisis", written apparently by three reporters, derides the calling together of "the huge number of agencies involved in the River Shannon". To so consult is therefore ridiculous.

Farther on, this view is justified by asserting that the OPW already knows what to do and will be the ones to do it. This derision flies in the face of best management practice to achieve 'buy-in' of all those involved. Bringing all together is more trouble but absolutely laudable.

Then the page 2 headline is "State to pay €100m to avoid election backlash". Well, any government would have to pay out something and no doubt say €10m would be headlined, eg. "Miserly Coalition response to flooding".

Damned if you do, damned if you don't. The vast majority of TDs are well-intentioned, but is it any wonder that the composition of the Dáil increasingly fails to reflect Ireland's modern educated population?

What person with ambition and talent will want to be subject to such daily cynicism?

Patrick Duffy

Blackrock, Co Dublin

Zero-tolerance for attackers

The reports that many women in Cologne and other German cities were assaulted by large crowds of men on New Year's Eve made depressive reading.

That many were "of North African or Arab appearance" does not bode well for others who seek asylum in Germany and the rest of the EU. Many of those who arrive from North Africa are economic migrants rather than genuine refugees. There should be a zero-tolerance policy towards this type of behaviour with a "one-strike-and-you-are-out" rule. Nothing less will do.

This behaviour should not reflect badly on genuine, law-abiding refugees who have fled in terror from war-torn countries.

John Bellew

Riverside House

Dunleer, Co Louth

Irish Independent

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