I've been contacted by a friend of a friend in Ireland. Her baby has an agonising condition, and needs to see an Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon to have it treated. It's an easily fixable condition. Science has seen to that.
But science hasn't found a way to shorten hospital waiting lists for children in my home country. Sadly, we depend on our politicians for that, and they've been found wanting.
This family have been told their 10 month old baby will have to wait roughly 2 years just for an initial appointment.
Then they'll have to get scheduled for any procedure that the child needs, which will take another few moths.
This baby will be a 3 year old child by the time he gets sorted out.
They've contacted me in the hope I can do something. I'm a paediatrician, and I'm from Ireland. Surely I can do something to help...can't I?
They can't go private, as they're on social welfare. It costs almost 200 euros for each private visit, and that's before any surgery has to be paid for. Private care is not an option for these people. They rely on the state.
But there's nothing I can do. I don't know anyone at their local hospital. I've told them I'll have a think about it. But I know I'm just delaying the conversation where i tell them I can't help.
As well as feeling pretty low about the plight of this baby, I feel somewhat embarrassed to be associated (albeit pretty distantly) to a service where babies are given worse healthcare than many animals would receive. I'm reasonably sure that a pet owner or a farmer would find themselves in trouble with the law if they left an animal in pain for 2 years.
Mary Harney is the Minister for health in ireland. Rather ironically, when we consider how many cutbacks have been foisted upon the sick children of Ireland, she is actually the Minister for Health and Children.
I wonder if she feels embarrassed like me. I wonder if she's had trouble sleeping, thinking about these kids in pain, like I have.
Or will she continue to claim that Irish hospitals are failing because of the inefficiency of the staff?
I suspect we all know the answer.
Working in Australia, I'd forgotten about these problems. I'm amazed at the third world healthcare available to those without health insurance in ireland. I'm doubly amazed that the current minister has kept her job for the last 6 years.
I guess this blog entry is just a rant because I feel useless. I don't have answers right now. I don't know how to help this kid. I don't know how to help the hordes of other children in the same situation
I'm not paid to have the answers, though. But I guess I wouldn't be as worried if I thought our political masters genuinely cared. Because anyone who gives a damn about people would do everything in their power to make sure nothing like this happens on their watch.
I'm sorry this isn't well written. I'm sorry it's all over the place. I'm sorry it doesn't flow well.
But mostly I'm sorry I can't do anything to help this kid.