Cystic Fibrosis patients are prone to picking up infections, and therefore should be accomodated in single en-suite rooms in hospital.
Until last year we had no such facilities in St Vincents, which is the national adult referral centre for the condition. This is despite the fact that we have the highest incidence of CF in the world.
In May 2007, two days before the last election, a brave and wonderful girl called Orla Tinsley wrote a 1500-word piece pleading for this to be changed. She pointed out that CF sufferers in the US have a life expectancy in the 40s. In the UK it’s in the 30s, and in Northern Ireland it’s 31.
In the Republic of Ireland it’s 21.
Orla was 20 when she wrote the article. In January 2008 she spoke from her hospital bed on Joe Duffy’s Liveline, and awoke a storm of anger & sympathy across the nation. Goaded into action, the HSE announced that 30 rooms would be provided in a new block in St Vincents that would be ready in 2010, and that in the interim 14 rooms would be made available in the existing hospital.
On Thursday last the HSE admitted that the block will not be ready in 2010. In fact, construction of it will not even begin “until 2011, at the earliest”. Furthermore, only eight of the promised 14 interim rooms have actually been provided.
Needless to say, the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland is shocked and enraged. And so is Orla, thankfully still with us, who wrote this piece in Friday’s Irish Times.
Read it, and remember it whenever you read that Health Minister Mary Harney had hair-do’s paid for by us when she was in Florida. Or when you read that Martin Cullen used a Government helicopter to travel to a meeting. Or when you read that the HSE is acknowledged by everyone to be badly run, with too many administrators and too many bad inefficient work-practices, but that its chief executive got an €80,000 performance-related bonus in 2007. Or when TDs justify receiving a Ministerial Pension while still being paid as a TD. Or when they receive a sudden €3,000 increase for reaching a certain length of service in the Dáil. Or when the useless Mary Coughlan defends this increase by saying they have “entitlements” to increases based on years of service.
Remember it when candidates call to your door looking for votes in the June local and European elections.
Orla and her friends have “entitlements” too. How sick are we as a society if we do not honour them?