Tuesday 12 November 2019

HSE bureaucracy is a waste of time

On Tuesday, I attended the A&E department at Limerick Regional Hospital at 11am with a bloodshot eye that was giving me a headache.

I had waited a day, hoping an eye bath might sort the problem to avoid going to hospital.

I bypassed my local GP as I felt that he was only going to refer me to A&E, and, to be quite honest, to save myself €50.

After four hours of waiting to see a doctor in the A&E, so that I might be referred to the eye ward at the regional hospital, I gave up and came home, without even seeing a doctor.

The receptionist, who I guess was fed up with people complaining, gave me the number of the services manager responsible for the running of the department that day.

When I spoke to him on my way home, he told me he was happy for me to complain about the service to the HSE. I asked if this meant he was happy with the level of service provided and he said it was just the system they operate.

Having had four hours to think about the issue, I worked out that I could have flown to Scotland for less than the cost of attending A&E here -- notwithstanding the air traffic controllers' strike in this country. There, I would have been guaranteed to be seen by a doctor and referred for effective treatment in the same timeframe. Instead, I wasted four hours of my life for nothing to happen.

The services manager also informed me that I was penalised because I had not gone and paid the €50 to my family doctor, so that he could refer me to A&E.

There, I would be invited to pay another €100 so that I might get yet another referral, at which point the Health Services Executive (HSE) would start claiming against my health insurance.

As a non-Irish national used to having free medical care, this seems like extortion, particularly as you are expected to accept and pay for this level of service with no comeback if it does not work. No one takes responsibility, and this lies at the root of the problem.

My eye is still inflamed -- hopefully, I don't have serious damage before I get to Scotland to have it assessed.

As a self-employed person, I ask who has four to eight hours to sit around with no information or any idea how long you might expect to be there? I had to arrange additional childcare and delay work.

Brian CrowleY

Irish Independent

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