Tuesday 23 January 2018

What the public can do for public health

Others will diagnose systemic problems in the HSE, but Sarah Carey has some ideas on public health and public discourse

Change: St James's Hospital Photo: Mark Condren
Change: St James's Hospital Photo: Mark Condren

I have three proposals to solve the trolley crisis. They are by no means comprehensive but there's no point repeating suggestions made elsewhere. And since 'multi-factorial' is my new favourite word (last year's was 'authentic') I think they should be given due consideration.

The first is a censorship issue concerning irrelevant comparisons. I have never been to the Third World. I suspect neither have those who claim that our hospitals are "just like the Third World". In Sierra Leone, the maternal mortality rate is 857 per 100,000 births. In Ireland - where the constitution is supposedly killing women - it's 10 per 100,000 births. That is nothing like the Third World. Falling back on this lazy cliche is a gross insult to people who live and die in the Third World. So could we stop that please?

I'd also like to extinguish the idea that this annual problem is uniquely Irish. The Red Cross has declared a humanitarian crisis in the UK and yet we continually refer to the NHS as the gold standard in public health. We're not the worst. They aren't the best. So let's just think before we compare.

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