Sunday, 22nd October 2017
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With Breda Gardner Homeopath, lcph, mcos, rgn

Health Therapies Clinic

13 Gladstone Street, Waterford.

Tel: 087 2025753.

Insight Natural Health Clinic

15 Upper Patrick St, Kilkenny

Tel: 056 7724429

Don’t be fooled!

Last week I wrote about a series of talks I gave to local politicians from across Ireland. The subject matter of both my talks and that article covered the importance of looking after your mental health and staying positive in the face of almost constant criticism. With no intended irony, I wrote "The general public in Ireland are quick to give out about politicians, and in many cases, that reaction is completely justified. Though it may be hard to believe, however, most politicians actually do have a heart (!), and many of them do a good job in the circumstances, particularly at local level."

This week, it was my intention to share a few more general insights from my talks, but guess what? I cannot let the events of the past few days go by without passing comment, and that means I am going to have to criticise certain politicians!

For the most part, I try to steer clear of politics – this is a health column after all! – but sometimes the two areas overlap, and this is one such occasion. So my message is this: DON’T BE FOOLED BY THE MOBILE CATH LAB! It is not the solution that we so desperately need for proper, 24/7 cardiac care in the South East. In my opinion, the new mobile cath lab is nothing more than a cynical exercise in optics, and one which completely and totally ignores the real issues. It is like putting a sticking plaster over a gaping wound.

It is, quite frankly, an affront to the people in our region, and an insult to those who lost their lives as a direct result of this government’s misguided policy. As the redoubtable Hilary O’Neill of the wonderful South-East Patient Advocacy Group put it: "This will not deliver 24/7. It will only do diagnostics and take people off one waiting list and onto another if they need follow-on treatment."

Hilary is exactly right, and nobody should be fooled into thinking that the mobile lab represents a meaningful improvement in cardiac care in the South East. The money allocated would have been better spent on extending the opening hours of the current facility, for example by offering care in the evenings or on Saturdays. The uncomfortable and shocking fact remains that your best chance of surviving a heart attack in the South East is to have it during office hours on Monday to Friday. If you have a heart attack out-of-hours or at the weekend, your chances of survival are greatly reduced. No amount of mobile cath labs or flawed reports are going to change that damning statistic.

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in life in general and in politics in particular, it’s the importance of being able to admit that you are wrong. As a county councillor, I have made mistakes in the political chamber in Kilkenny, but I have held my hands up and said I was sorry. And you know what? My apology was accepted, we moved on, and we continue (mostly!) to work effectively together.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Health Minister Simon Harris, the Department of Health, the HSE, and most especially, all the local TD’s in the South East need to step up to the plate and admit they are wrong. They need to stop playing games with people’s lives, and stop fiddling at the edges with distractions like the mobile cath lab. The South East needs and deserves 24 x 7 cardiac care, and the powers that be should deliver it now!

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