The kings of spin: Leo and Simon can’t let a PR opportunity pass
Can you imagine the chaos if, when you went to a department store to buy, say, a shirt, and there was only one checkout in the whole store?
Imagine if you had to join the queue with the people who were buying furniture, electrical goods, cosmetics, shoes, jewellery, food and take away coffee?
It would be pure chaos.
But you don’t have to imagine it.
Only it’s worse.
Because in A&E it’s not people buying shirts and furniture, it’s chronically ill people being forced to sit for hours in the same room or ward or corridor as people with ‘flu or viral infections, people in pain having to wait hours while the more seriously ill are dealt with .
If a shop like Arnott’s decided to have one counter at which all its customers were served, it would close down in a week.
Yet A&E does exactly that – and it can’t close down.
You cut your finger? Join the queue.
You’ve just had a heart attack? Join the queue.
You’ve broken your leg? Join the queue.
You’ve taken a dodgy drug and you’re in a coma? Get someone to put you in the queue.
You’re an addict, you’re out of it? Join the queue.
You’re an alcoholic and you need help? Join the queue.
You’re chronically ill, you’ve been here a dozen times before, you can’t risk infection? Join the queue.
It’s a farce.
And while Simon Harris can flit from here to there (at our expense) for PR opportunities, sick people suffer in A&E, people who simply need a few stitches, waste their own and everybody else’s time in A&E and the chronically ill risk death.
Oh, sure it’s great to promise free GP care for Under 16s when we don’t have a sufficient number of GPs in the country to provide a service for everyone as it is.
But, isn’t it another PR opportunity for Simon?
It’s not the fault of the frontline staff. They are truly heroic.
But somewhere in the bowels of the HSE there are people who’ve probably never been in an A&E department, who certainly haven’t been in an A&E department as a patient, who are making decisions (or not making decisions) which are causing this chaos.
(As an aside, you have to wonder why the Respiratory Assessment Unit in St James’s Hospital is just about the furthest clinic from the front door forcing people with breathing difficulties to struggle to get there.)
I’ve told you before that I’ve been in A&E 18 or 19 times and I have been admitted each time.
Now, though my COPD has worsened, I think I’d be afraid to go near it.
Like many, many others, one infection could kill me. And the place I’m most likely to get it is in A&E.
Dr James Reilly was actually right when he said Primary Care centres would relieve pressure on A&E departments. There are a few. But not nearly enough.
Addicts, be it to alcohol or drugs, need specialist care. A&E can’t give it. It’s not what they’re trained for. Their job is dealing with road accident victims, strokes, heart attacks and people seriously injured in assaults or falls or whatever.
Chronically ill patients should have a special A&E, not to jump a queue for beds, but a) because their history is known and b) so they aren’t vulnerable to infection.
But sure, Simon’s too busy getting his picture taken here and there and making promises that can’t be kept – like free GP care for Under 16s.
The fact is, that as long as people with sprained ankles, heart attack victims, addicts and the chronically ill are all piled into one department, there will be chaos.
The answers are there if only those at the top of the HSE would listen.
And the person at the very top is Simon Harris.