Sunday 18 March 2018

Disaster rhetoric does system a disservice

The INMO is good at presenting the trolley crisis as one simple problem with one simple answer, says Brendan O'Connor

It was very telling that people were reluctant to moan to the Irish Independent's Nicola Anderson when she went to St Luke's General Hospital in Kilkenny, which had, at that point, the most overcrowded A&E room in the country. Those waiting praised the staff, the quality of the care, even the level of organisation. They felt sorry for the staff.

The dominant voices in this annual ritual tend to paint a picture of chaos, seething masses of humanity. But behind the numbers and behind the disaster rhetoric, there are people working away efficiently offering excellent care as best they can. There may be hundreds waiting on trolleys but there are thousands being cured every day too, lives being saved by the miracles of modern medicine and the wonderful people who use their skills and dedication and the tools and technology to work those miracles.

Anthony O'Connor, a consultant gastroenterologist at Tallaght, who wrote a thought-provoking piece for The Journal last week, pointed out something very simple at the start of his piece. He works, he said, in a hospital where 96pc of the patients last year described their care as good or excellent. And the vast majority of us would probably concur. Once you get in to the system, it works for most people.

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