TWO stories in this week’s edition highlight a deficiency in our health system that is rarely highlighted – its inability to communicate efficiently.
The rigmarole surrounding the closure of the region’s only interventional cath lab is, quite frankly, petrifying. We have been campaigning for 24/7 cardiac care for close to a decade and now, and in a few short weeks, we might have to succumb to zero hours emergency cardiac care. That’s the reality of it. As Cllr Matt Shanahan rightly pointed out in this week’s front page story, there really is no way they can provide PPCI care without a working cath lab. We’re going to be left with emergency cardiac care via an ambulance to Cork, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for an undetermined period of time. It’s undetermined because they haven’t told us. We don’t know when it will close, how long it will close for and, most importantly, what will happen to our patients during the period of closure. This is desperately poor communication relating to a subject that is quite literally, close to our hearts.
Additionally, two weeks ago, we revealed that UHW had only one chaplain receiving a salary at the hospital. That’s one chaplain who is supposed to provide solace to people, in their darkest hours, 24/7. The hospital themselves said that due to a moratorium on the hiring of new staff a second chaplain could not be sanctioned. However, this week, in response to a query from a Waterford News & Star journalist, they revealed that not only was the hospital getting a second chaplain, it was getting a 24/7 chaplaincy service. Surely this was a missed opportunity to take ownership of what turned out to be a very positive story, instead of a two liner response sent late on a Monday evening.
Regional funding disparity
While you might expect a funding difference between Cork and the South East region, Darren Skelton’s report in this week’s newspaper puts into perspective just how great that disparity is. €1.4 billion of a difference is a grotesque and unfair divide of wealth, but unless more cogent and sustained regional political pressure is applied this inequitable situation will only grow further.
Cork has the second largest city in the country, which will always mean a significant degree of growth momentum, but the divergence in the level of funding for 542,868 people (Cork) versus 500,000 plus (South East – comprising Waterford, Wexford, Carlow, Kilkenny and South Tipperary), just doesn’t add up. Yet, that is the reality for those on one side of the River Blackwater and those on the other.
For decades now the South East’s political landscape has amounted to negative point-scoring, county versus county. It must be particularly gratifying for those Dublin and Cork politicians who don’t have to contend with a coherent political machine in the South East, oiled to get the best deals for the region, whether in its individual elements or as a whole. A rising tide carries all ships, but we don’t facilitate such a tide in the South East. Until we do, as the Investments Tracker project reflects, we will continue to be dealt crumbs from the cabinet table and its various departments.