Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has challenged the next government to deliver on election promises to tackle the country’s health crisis and address the “scandalous” failures of the healthcare system.
On World Day of the Sick Dr Martin said, “We have an obligation to keep our leaders to their words” and he hoped that the “many promises we’ve heard in these election days won’t remain just empty words”.
Speaking at the Church of the Guardian Angels in Blackrock, Co Dublin where he blessed the sick and those who care for them, Archbishop Martin said Ireland is marked by “a strange incongruence” where despite the “astonishing progress in medical science, so many aspects of our healthcare system are scandalous”.
He paid tribute to the quality of the country’s many “extraordinary and dedicated” doctors, nurses and carers but added, “Our extraordinary doctors, nurses and carers feel so often let down” by a system in which “sick children and elderly are left waiting and exasperated.”
Exit polls following Saturday’s vote showed that the most important issue for voters was health (32 per cent) followed by housing/homelessness (26pc).
On Sunday, Archbishop Martin lamented that “we live at a time in which despite the progress of medical science”, many of those who are sick “suffer from a deep loneliness and an abandonment, a sense of being rejected and forgotten, that society simply passes them by and leaves them on their own”.
Ahead of the election Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin hit out at the “permanent state of crisis” of the health service, despite the hard work and dedication of doctors and nurses.
He said an economy which assumes that every able-bodied man and woman will be part of the workforce is, by definition, an economy in which it is no longer possible, as it was in the past, for the elderly and the sick to be cared for at home.
Most people in rural Ireland, he said, were aware of the pressure on primary care, with elderly GPs retiring and not being replaced.
“We don’t need promises from politicians; what we need is evidence of joined up thinking,” Dr Doran challenged.
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