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Putting a price on life is not enough

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A nationwide survey has been carried out by the Medical council. Getty Images/iStockphoto

A nationwide survey has been carried out by the Medical council. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

A nationwide survey has been carried out by the Medical council. Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has put a price on life with its decision that none of the proposed 'public-access defibrillator programmes' is 'cost-effective'.

A defibrillator is a small portable device which can be used to help those who suffer cardiac arrest in a public place and can keep a victim alive until the emergency services arrive with more sophisticated life-saving equipment.

This decision, based on cost, will not be of much consolation to those whose loved ones have died at the side of a football pitch or other public place because these devices were not available. It is difficult to argue with the figures, however.

The proposed plan to provide defibrillators in 43,000 public places would cost over €100m and result in saving the lives of between two and 11 people, over and above those who are treated for cardiac arrest in hospitals.

The breakdown of costs indicates that private companies would have to spend an estimated €85m to comply with the proposal.

While the scheme for a nationwide network of these devices, promoted by Senator Feargal Quinn and accepted by the former Health Minister James Reilly, is laudable, the costs are enormous and make the scheme prohibitive, according to the health watchdog, in a report published yesterday.

However, the good news is that Ireland has a wide spread of defibrillators in public places.

The bad news is that this system is not standardised and while a GAA club might have one, the school next door may not be aware of it, or have access to it.

It would seem that if a national system is to be ruled out because of cost, a good alternative would be to draw up a register of places where these potentially life-saving devices are located so that communities and sporting organisations would at least be aware that such equipment is accessible and in the vicinity.

Another avenue worth exploring, says HIQA, would be to identify areas where the risk of cardiac arrest is highest, such as sports grounds, and ensure that these devices are available at such locations.

Stroke politics alive and well in Coalition

So much for the promises of New Politics. The appointment of a Fine Gael crony to a state board was bad enough. To then put his name forward for election to the Seanad, apparently using his short-lived term on the board to bump up his credentials, was worse.

The appointment of Fine Gael activist John McNulty to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, just days before he was nominated to the Seanad on the Cultural and Educational Panel, has rightly come in for criticism.

It's not the most appalling example of cronyism ever, but it does appear to be a deeply cynical stroke.

It's a throwback to the bad old days and not in keeping with the standards expected of a Government which committed to reform the way politics was done.

Labour Party senators have expressed concerns about the debacle. But where were the Labour ministers when this appointment to a state board was being approved by the Government, as is the norm?

The Coalition has been given ample fair wind to repair the economy. Higher ethical standards are not a big ask.

Irish Independent