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Lack of action harming patients

FORECASTING improvements in the health service is always a triumph of hope over experience.

It has come home again with more hospitals named and shamed for poor handwashing. Every doctor and member of health staff has been offered training courses on how to reduce the risk of passing on infections to patients. But in some hospitals, the problems are getting worse.

At the same time, Health Minister James Reilly was speaking about the fruits of his reform, with fewer trolley waits and promises of free GP care for young children. The jury is still out on whether his €40m will cover even this first phase of free GP care.

The reports of infection-control inspections of hospitals are the most telling of how difficult it is to bring about sustainable change.

Lack of funding is often cited as the reason why the momentum for change is not met, but with handwashing there is no cost.

Although basins could be more strategically placed, the doctors still have the option of using hand gel.

Many of these same doctors lobby to improve treatments for their patients – but at the same time they are putting them in harm.

It is another contradiction that leaves patients sceptical of declarations of change.

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