Saturday 3 December 2016

Martina Devlin: Hospitals' shame – this is no way to care for our sick and dying

Published 14/11/2013 | 02:00

Caring for our ill – but conditions in hospitals mean there is little hope of preserving patients' dignity
Caring for our ill – but conditions in hospitals mean there is little hope of preserving patients' dignity

A television set in the ward blaring out a football match. A curtain separating one cubicle from the next, offering the flimsiest semblance of privacy. That soulless scene described by actor Gabriel Byrne, as he watched a friend's life peter out, is familiar to anybody visiting a public hospital.

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Now compare it with a private hospital. A luxury hotel springs to mind. Peace and quiet in comfortable surroundings, with en suite bathrooms and titbits of food to tempt weary appetites, are guaranteed – because people pay for such privileges.

Yet to call privacy a privilege when people are seriously ill, never mind if their condition is terminal, seems profoundly wrong. Surely it ought to be a right. A courtesy extended automatically. Such tokens of respect, taking the edge off the burden carried by patients and their families, are far from the norm in the public hospital system, however.

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