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A&E department misery hasn’t gone away, you know


Hospital overcrowding remains a problem for Leo Varadkar

Hospital overcrowding remains a problem for Leo Varadkar

Hospital overcrowding remains a problem for Leo Varadkar

The misery suffered by patients on trolleys in our A&E departments has raised its head again. In just four days, we heard of two patients, both over 100 years old, enduring more than 24 hours on desperately uncomfortable trolleys in overcrowded A&E departments. One of these ladies was in the A&E department in Tallaght.

We in the Tallaght Hospital Action Group review trolley counts provided by the INMO almost on a daily basis and they make very grim reading. On June 3, there were 477 patients on trolleys nationally. The INMO site, however, allows you to look back to previous years. On the same day in 2014, there were 219 patients on trolleys. That equates to a doubling of patients in one year. Issues about long waits in our A&E are not new. Health Minister Leo Varadkar said special “troubleshooter squads” would be sent into hospitals with acute A&E issues. It is hard not to be cynical about this initiative.

Tallaght Hospital has been visited by Mary Harney’s special task force (2006), the Dr Maurice Hayes report team, Hiqa (more than once) and the Special Delivery Unit teams (more than once). Tallaght Hospital is now part of a new initiative called the Irish Hospital Redesign Programme in partnership with the SDU that began in 2014 and is aiming to drive improvement and sustainability of scheduled, urgent and emergency care.

After the catastrophic figure of 600 patients on trolleys in January 2015, we saw Mr Varadkar establish another “task force”. We said its recommendations hardly differed from Ms Harney’s task force’s deliberations 10 years earlier.

I have heard many decision-makers say our elderly and frail population and the increase in chronic disease are at the root of the problem. They are correct but fail to acknowledge it is this group who suffer from acute and often frequent episodes of ill-health who will require hospital care.

Tallaght Hospital Action Group would suggest we do not need another report, task force, fact-finding mission or “troubleshooting squad”. And certainly not ones that don’t include patient engagement to determine why patients end up in acute distress in an A&E department in the first place.

To us, the solution is quite clear. Hospitals need more beds, more nurses and more doctors. There is a famous quote that has been attributed to Einstein, Ben Franklin and Mark Twain, which states that doing something over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity!

Triona Murphy

Tallaght Hospital Action Group


Checks and balances

With reference to Tom Leonard (Irish Independent, Letters, June 8), it was the ancient Greek democracy that condemned the wisest man who ever lived, Socrates, to death. Democracy should have checks and balances to try and preserve jurisprudence.

The UK parliament has the Lords as a check, as it can delay a bill for a year. The monarchy acts as a check and balance under the law. The US constitution has checks and balances and the Senate can veto bills and impeach the President. The Senate is not democratic as each state elects two Senators regardless of population.

In Ireland, the power of the Seanad as a check is diminished, as the Taoiseach can appoint 11 members. The President acts as a check for the constitutionality of a bill. The track record of the UK democracy with a constitutional monarch compares favourably with most.

The German Weimar Republic voted to give absolute power to Hitler in 1933 by a majority as the Nazi party was supported by the CCP, the Catholic Centre Party. In 1948, John A Costello’s government declared the Pope king of Ireland. John A Costello himself said he would obey the bishops regardless of the mandate he got from the people.

The Magna Carta democracies, the UK and US, are based on human rights and are ‘open societies’. They are examples of societies where a high degree of unity is attained and a high degree of diversity retained. The open societies fought against totalitarian governments in two World Wars to make the world a safe place for democracy.

Stephen Fallon

Barrington Street, Limerick


In defence of Dettori

I would like to vehemently disagree with Fred Molloy’s comments (Irish Independent, Letters, June 9) on Frankie Dettori.

I think it is great to see a sportsman showing their sheer delight and unbridled joy at winning such a big race. Frankie might not be as good as Lester Piggott was in his prime but he has won virtually all the big races around the world.

He has also endured some off-field troubles but has bounced back from these setbacks to win the greatest flat race in the world for a second time.

Richard Holden

Maynooth, Co Kildare


Noble documentary

The very moving RTÉ documentary on Christina Noble reminded me once again that if ever there was a place to be reserved in heaven for a saint, it should be for Christina Noble. Her work is simply saintly.

I feel pretty sure that had Christina not suffered the horrific deprivation, poverty and abuse that she underwent, that this amazing goodness would not have come about.

Small wonder she and her siblings display such strong antagonism towards the Catholic Church, which, with the connivance of the State, forced her and her siblings apart and allowed some of them to be abused in institutions: it took 50 years for them to all meet again.

Yet it does all bring home the message that this church, like other institutions, is composed of individuals both good and bad and because we are all humans, can be capable of doing almost anything. It is still a church that I, like so many others, adhere to, whatever its faults.

Padraig Byrne

Ennis, Co Clare


Remember your fellow citizens

Inland Waterways and several local groups object to plans that would help alleviate water shortages in the greater Dublin and East Coast areas.

I find it extraordinary that the very people who spend half the winter demanding Government action to combat the predictable annual flooding along many parts of the Shannon are not prepared to help out their fellow citizens in the country’s capital.

Niall Ginty

Dublin 5


FIFA, I can keep a secret

I was thrilled to witness Jack Charlton’s well-deserved standing ovation at last Sunday’s Ireland versus England fixture at the Aviva.

However, as a contest I was disappointed at the lack of quality on offer to the fee-paying public.

In relation to the aforementioned lacklustre affair, perhaps FIFA could offer me some monetary compensation to assuage my frustration. I am, of course, prepared to keep any such settlement a secret.

Tony Wallace

Longwood, Co Meath

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