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Two steps that would ease the crisis in our health service

Letters to the Editor


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Columnist Lorraine Courtney asks ‘Where are the ICU beds we need to get a handle on Covid?’ (Irish Independent, October 26). That’s a very interesting question in light of information in the Department of Health annual publication, Health in Ireland (2019 edition), highlighted by Sean Barrett in his excellent article of September 15 (‘Ireland’s health system is not as underfunded, understaffed or under- resourced as we think’, Irish Independent, September 15), which shows the country has the third-highest share of GDP/GBI spent on health in the OECD, exceeded only by Switzerland and the US.

The report goes on to say that Ireland has more doctors, nurses and beds per 1,000 population than most other countries. Yet while near the top for expenditure we are near the bottom for service.

All this seems to lead to the conclusion that the lack of service is not due to under-resourcing but to totally inadequate management of the resources available. I have many times tried to highlight this point by referring to the occupation of beds of patients awaiting scans and X-rays while the hours for such services remain at 8.45am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and was informed by then health minister Simon Harris that it was not intended to increase these hours. A further cause of needless occupation of beds is the lack of services that would enable people to remain at home. Action on these two issues would ensure that only those in need of hospitalisation would occupy beds and would reduce spending on health.

Is it too much to hope that we can expect improvement in the provision of health services as a matter of urgency, taking into account that money is not the sole or the most urgent answer? Every time billions more are given to the HSE, they seem to disappear into a black hole. People deserve more – as do health staff – than constantly throwing money at the problem instead of proper oversight by those in charge.

Mary Stewart

Ardeskin, Donegal town


Successive cabinet ministers clueless about the issues

FRANK SCHNITTGER is yet another voice (in the wilderness) about the interminable housing crisis (‘Tax on vacant properties could solve housing crisis’, Letters, October 27). If only this were the true reason behind the failure of the three cabinets since 2011.

I am at a complete loss as to even attempt to understand the mindset of any Irish government minister when it comes to housing – a basic human requirement.

It would appear that each and every member of every Irish cabinet since 2011 was clueless of an iota outside of their own department, which then begs the question as to why they deserve to be in office.

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If Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are so obtuse on housing, they will be six months out of office after the next election before they realise Sinn Féin are the government.

Declan Foley

Melbourne, Australia


GDPR? We need referendum on unmasking online trolls

THE Government found it easy to introduce GDPR, which has probably been more disturbing for elderly people than Covid and has also put a lid on whistleblowing, reducing the natural inclination to advocate for others. Socially, an own-goal.

Compare this action with the inability to have a referendum to enforce, legally, a traceable identity to be attached to all postings on social media.

Such a referendum should be a top priority for all parties.

Eugene Tannam

Firhouse, Dublin

Ownership of site of new maternity hospital is key

THE State will take control of the new National Maternity Hospital for 299 years under fresh proposals to finally settle the row over its governance. However, this proposal falls fundamentally short of what Irish public interest demands: that the State should buy the Elm Park site outright.

The ownership of the site was transferred from the original owners, the Sisters of Charity, to St Vincent’s Healthcare Group, which states categorically that it must retain ownership “for clinical, governance and operational reasons”.

Obviously, the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group realises the value of outright ownership – a fact the State fails to comprehend.

The row is being presented as a dispute over the length of the proposed lease. Whether the lease is 149 or 299 years is largely irrelevant. Ownership of the site on which the State is building the new €800m National Maternity Hospital is the real issue and cannot and should not be swept under the carpet.

Under these new proposals, nothing of substance changes.

Brendan Butler

Malahide, Co Dublin