An ill wind
I write to inform your readers of a pandemic of VHI-tis that is sweeping the nation causing much suffering and silently draining the resources of individuals and families throughout the State.
I have been aware of this disease for some time but have been waiting for sufficient evidence to link the various symptoms that are caused by this terrible plague.
As the disease is in the early stages of recognition by the medical establishment and will undoubtedly prove controversial, it might be easiest to explain its effects with an example of the most recent case I encountered whilst working at the 'out of hours' service in Dublin.
Sean is a sergeant in the Army, he presents to me at the out of hours with his son Stevie (3). Sean is concerned that Stevie has a chest infection and might not be fit for an urgent operation which he has been scheduled to have next week.
Sean and his wife Jane both work, Jane is a bit anxious about her working and leaving the kids with a childminder. As a consequence of her anxiety she and her husband purchased private health insurance for their family this year. This is the point where I believe the family may have contracted the illness.
Because Stevie sometimes does not immediately respond when spoken to, mum was anxious about his hearing and as a consequence Stevie was seen by a consultant two days previously (for the small, non-refundable fee of some €200).
Stevie was diagnosed with "fluid" behind the eardrums and his surgery (insertion of grommets) was booked for next week.
Strangely, when I examined Stevie's ears at the out of hours I found them both to be full of dry, hard, compacted wax, and as such I could see neither eardrums nor fluid. Stevie was otherwise well.
It appears that as a consequence of his VHI-tis a large amount of compacted ear wax materialised in both of Stevie's ear canals within the previous 48 hours. It would normally take weeks if not months for dry compacted wax to build up to this degree.
From this, readers might begin to imagine just how dangerous VHI-tis can be in the rapid manifestation of pathological conditions and the need for extensive testing and expensive surgical procedures.
The above example is just one of many where private health insurance apparently results in the need for a level of testing and surgery that medical card patients and those without health insurance seem to be almost entirely immune to.
I would like to advise your readers that if they do not wish to contract the disease and suffer from its many consequences they should get rid of their private health insurance as soon as possible.
With the money they'd save, they could buy their family doctor a nice expensive Christmas present and insist upon a proper level of care from the most expensive and most dysfunctional public health system on the planet.
Dr Marcus de Brun