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Feeling the pain of HSE foolery

THE consultant who is being paid for doing nothing struck a poignant note when he told our reporter: "The most frustrating thing of all is that people blame consultants because they believe we have some influence. We don't, but as the highest-paid members of the health service, it's easy to always make us the whipping boys."

All together now . . .

The orthopaedic surgeon in Letterkenny General Hospital and two colleagues have been reduced to performing surgery on just one day every two weeks, due to HSE cutbacks. They say they have neither beds nor staff.

Our man might have chosen to remain silent, as so many health service personnel do, but instead he has highlighted yet another bizarre anomaly.

Meanwhile, the HSE is threatening sanctions against consultants who are exceeding the ratio of private to public patients laid down by the new consultant contract.

The consultants protest that both public and private patients arrive through Accident and Emergency and that a doctor cannot pick and choose.

They cite a shortage of public beds in hospitals and other factors.

With regard to the Letterkenny situation, the HSE says it has a duty to keep within budget and, consequently "we will be ceasing to do hip and knee replacement from our waiting list for a number of weeks".

Patient Focus says that any deferral of hip replacement surgery results in increased suffering for the patient.

When the Taoiseach says that everyone has to feel the pain, he isn't joking.