Wednesday 13 November 2019

Treasure our frontline health staff for their hard work

• I am writing to pay tribute to the real people that matter. Not the so-called celebrities who feature endlessly on the society pages of national newspapers, but those that, in my humble opinion, really matter.

There are enough people prepared to expound the virtues of those sleaze-ridden jet-setters who still maintain their luxurious existences while the ordinary working people continue to pay their debts incurred through reckless gambling and super- extravagant living.

My tribute is devoted to those splendid people who man the frontline in St James's Hospital in Dublin and to those afflicted with cancer -- they are simply the ones that matter.

Due to my own sister contracting that terrible illness, I have had several occasions to watch those people carry out their everyday duties at first hand. I have struggled to find words to describe how impressed I am.

There are no celebrities on show here, just a team of quietly efficient, highly committed staff who deal with an endless deluge of critical situations with a calmness and expertise that inspires both confidence and admiration in those whose lives are threatened by cancer, and their relatives.

It is, however, something else that has me searching vainly for words here. The good humour and sheer human qualities they display in the course of their duties compliment and complete every other quality.

Ernest Hemingway once described courage as "grace under pressure". Suffice it to say that never have I seen more courageous people.

Do we count our blessings for these splendid people? If they were captains of industry or executive bankers we could, no doubt, come up with ways to pay them performance bonuses.

These people do not need such payments to motivate them, that comes from their inherent qualities. They do not want patronising praise, they are driven by an altruistic sense of caring for their patients.

They rightly seek to be respected for the skilled and dedicated professionals that they are; they only ask to be given the resources to carry out the work at which they so excel.

Instead, they are undermined in a demoralising manner on a daily basis. Budgets are swallowed up by a management tier that will never see a patient, let alone treat one. They have their numbers reduced to levels that inevitably lead to ever mounting stress.

The lovely qualities that they bring to their profession are being stripped from them by ruthless cutbacks. The system is steadily eroding and weakening the resolve and altruism that drives these frontline people as they wrestle with impossible work situations before going home exhausted and frustrated to spouses and families.

Our sense of values are totally distorted in this sad country, corrupted and bedevilled by greed and total selfishness. When we, or those close to us, are beset with ill-health, the outcome will rest on the efforts of the frontline staff of hospitals like St James's. They are the real people that matter. Value and appreciate them now for the caring, decency and humanity that they show.

Name and address with editor

Irish Independent

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