21 January 2023

    I don't normally post about local politics, but I think this story that run in the Irish Independent today merits an exception to my general rule: https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/horrendous-conditions-thousands-march-on-streets-over-dystopian-nightmare-at-university-hospital-limerick-42304522.html

    The A&E department of the main hospital in Limerick has been struggling for more than a decade, since the A&E in other hospitals in the mid-West of Ireland were closed. I experienced it several years ago when my father had to be admitted one night. It was like a scene from a war movie, people on trolleys everywhere I looked, lining the corridors, waiting to be seen and either treated or admitted to a room. I'd heard the horror stories, of course, but until you see it for yourself, it's hard to imagine just how shambolic and dreadfully under-par it is.

    I'll always remember an elderly lady, not fully in control of her senses, not sure where she was or why she was on a trolley in a corridor with loads of strangers passing by. She could easily have been my grandmother, and the thought of my granny having to endure such a fate filled me with rage and sadness -- and still does, all these years later, when the situation is apparently even worse than it was then.

    I know there's no easy fix for the health crisis in Ireland, with hospitals everywhere struggling at the moment, but things in the mid-West (Limerick) where I live seem to be worse than in more other parts of the country, and have been for a long time, leaving us to assume we're of little interest to the power-mongers that be. It's nothing to do with the staff -- I have a close cousin and some friends who work there -- who always give their all. There just aren't enough of them, and they're not getting the support from the government that they require. I'm glad people are marching, and I hope they keep marching, and in even greater numbers, until something is done about it. I didn't hear about today's march until after the fact, or I'd have been there marching with them. Hopefully I'll be out with them next time.

    I've lived in Limerick for 44 years, and hope to spend the rest of my life here -- it's my home, and even though I've been lucky enough to travel all around the world, and could afford to make a base most anywhere I chose, this is where I've always come back to, because its where my family and most of my closest friends are from. But I turned 50 last year, and although I've been pretty healthy for most of my life to date, I know this is something I'll have to think about over the next couple of decades or so. Do I really want to live in a part of the world where I can't rely on the health service if I need it? When my health starts to deteriorate (as it surely will at some point, unless I keel over dead of course), will I want to go and lie on a trolley in a corridor for 24 or 36 hours, or will I feel compelled to move elsewhere? I hate the thought of having to choose between my health and my home at the end of my days. Hopefully things will get better over the next ten or twenty years and I won't have to, but as things stand, those are the kinds of choices we're facing in the mid-West of Ireland, in what is supposedly one of the most richest countries in Europe, in terms of GDP per capita...

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