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No country for old men

• Three recent events in my work as a GP left me angry and sad. The first one involved an elderly gentleman who travelled home from Dublin where he needed chemotherapy. He fell getting off the bus and got an ugly gash on his knee. He asked a woman in the nearby car park whether she could bring him to the GP. She blankly refused and drove off.

The second also involved an elderly person, this time a lady. She brought in a form for a grant for insulating her roof. A little medical section had to be filled out. She then told me she would bring this back to her local TD. "The local TD," I asked, bewildered? "Oh yes, he got the form for me and will then give it back to the council." The poor lady then had to listen to a sermon from myself -- either she is entitled to a grant or she is not, with or without the fingerprints of a local TD. Anyway this is the job of the citizens' information centre.

The last incident concerned a lorry driver in his 50s, hardworking, putting in a 50-60 hour week. He told me his earnings hardly enable him to break even, and not having a medical card -- his pay is just over the limit for one -- he has to pay for every bit of medical care himself.

His cholesterol was sky-high, but he admitted he could not afford to pay for the drug to lower it. After treating him I just happened to see a summary of the travel expenses for ministers and TDs for the period March to December. Many had claimed the maximum, which is €45,000 -- just in travel expenses -- and they don't even have to be fully vouched for.

If Ireland is ever to get back on track, the help- yourself mentality of politicians with taxpayers' money on the one hand, and the tribal way of 'I do you a favour and you will then vote for me' on the other, has to change.

Dr Claudia Gisler
Trim, Co Meath

Irish Independent