Staff levels are key to addressing hospital overcrowding crisis
As a practising nurse of many years' experience, I feel I must comment on the recent article by Dr Brendan O' Shea (Irish Independent, January 11).
I was appalled at his suggestion that patients on trolleys in emergency departments should be moved to wards to alleviate overcrowding.
He further suggests that zero tolerance for moving these patients by nursing staff is akin to "playing silly industrial relations games".
What is the point in transferring overcrowding in one hospital department to another? Whose care would the transferred patients come under - ward staff or emergency department staff?
In most hospitals, public wards are already full to capacity and most are barely adequately staffed, or are under-staffed in many cases. Imagine your loved one parked on a trolley in the middle of a room surrounded by other patients and having no privacy.
I find Dr O'Shea's comment that any attempts to obstruct movement of trolleys on to hospital wards "are akin to terrorists hiding themselves among unfortunate hostages" reprehensible and not worthy of his profession.
He appears to have all the answers to the problems in our health system, yet his comments indicate how out of touch he is with the reality of caring for patients in our hospitals.
May I point out to him that his suggestion for expanding capacity on the community side and moving patients to nursing home places is proving very difficult at present as there are not enough nurses in our country to staff them?
The reason for this is that we have had a moratorium on nurse recruitment for many years.
The majority of our newly qualified doctors and nurses are going to work abroad, where they are better paid, have better working conditions and have much better opportunities to advance their careers.
Skerries, Co Dublin
Dangers of social media
I was moved to write this letter having just watched the news on RTÉ One.
The case of the 15-year-old-girl who was sexually abused after being groomed by an adult on social media must have really set off alarm bells for families with young children, teenagers and young adults all over Ireland.
"Shocking" is the only word to describe the case.
I feel that social media in particular has a lot to answer for. Do we really need such an intrusive means of communicating, where people's lives are constantly being scrutinised and lifestyles compared?
Does modern society need more heartache? Social media has brought with it a lot of superficiality and I feel Ireland has changed so dramatically that it's become just like the United States.
Ireland is losing its identity and we need to protect our young people. Life in modern-day Ireland is hard enough for families. We have high hopes for 2016, and so we should. We have a lot to be proud of, even with all our current problems.
Let 2016 be the year of change - let this year showcase our wonderful nation to the world.
But also remember, charity begins at home.
Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin
Boost spending on education
How many of the parties involved in the General Election due shortly will have a major policy that includes spending more money on the children in our country? None.
Someone should have a policy of more spending on our children, in sport, in terms of extra SNAs in schools and the like.
Working with all parents and teachers, we need to increase the amount spent each year by a massive amount.
Vulnerable children can then be helped to work through early problems. We could also work at nurturing more interest in sport, and we could encourage a social connection for each child within society. The return? We will have adults who drink and smoke far less and the numbers who end up in prison will be reduced in the future.
Spending money now on education and looking after our children will result not only in balanced adults, who have a chance to have balanced children, but it will also enable us to save millions on our health service through increased health awareness, as well as saving money by reducing the numbers in prison.
Which party is going to push for this change in the way we spend our valuable resources? Our current system throws billions every year at closing the door after the horse has bolted.
Spend the money today to guide our children to grow up and make Ireland a better place.
Kingswood, Dublin 24
Heady days of Bertie's reign
In her recent article (Irish Independent, January 11), Mandy Johnston discusses a Labour Party draft advertisement depicting a marriage between Micheál Martin and Gerry Adams with supporting cast of Mick Wallace, Clare Daley et al, described in the article as a "motley crew of unlikely guests".
In the context of a possible political marriage between Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin after the election, I would not see the involvement of such people as "unlikely" but rather as essential to make up the numbers to provide a governing majority.
Leaving that aside, one has to acknowledge Ms Johnston's superb credentials to comment on such matters, given that she spent several years advising Fianna Fáil on how best to get its message across to the public, serving as government press secretary in the heady days of Bertie Ahern's reign as Taoiseach.
She tells us that she considers the present Government to be "mind-numbingly boring", and one has to sympathise with her.
Undoubtedly, it must have been much more exciting being in the corridors of power back in the day when Bertie was able to tell those who had the audacity to raise questions about where his government's policies might lead the country, that they were only moaners and whingers and he couldn't understand why they didn't go and commit suicide.
Nenagh, Co Tipperary