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Readers blog: We must protest at two tier health service. To do nothing is NOT an option.

I am a concerned, ill and disabled older woman aged 64. I know the 'lay of the land' as a former nurse and social worker. 

I will be attending a meeting this Saturday that I never believed would be necessary in a civilised, 'modern' country. 

In the last decade health care in Ireland for those who cannot afford private insurance has deteriorated to such a degree we worry whether this country really wants us dead.

Where the health service cannot sustain either A&E's or surgeries, or care in the community that allows 'living' in all its fullness.

Where every sick and disabled person depending on state services have to fight, grovel, protest, and basically demean themselves to stay alive.

This is a country which can galvanise hundreds of thousands onto the streets over water charges, abortion and Gay marriage Rights but CANNOT stir the population over HEALTH RIGHTS.

There is inertia, depression, a sense of futility in protesting Health Rights. Why do we allow Health rights violations? It is a mystery.

This is a country where children do not get swift treatment for scoliosis and must suffer extreme pain with breathing problems due to a collapsing spine.

This is a country where older people are referred to as 'bed blockers', (in irritation) denied dignity ad respect but are rather seen as threats to the hospital system.

This is a country where an older person who had a stroke, was brilliantly rehabilitated and left Donnybrook rehab WALKING yet on return to the community received no physiotherapy and is now using a wheelchair.

This is a country where disabled children and adults are given second hand useless wheelchairs; as a cheap option.

Wheelchairs they need to live and live fully simply not up to the job, restrictive, agony, breaking down, arguably dangerous. I know this - I was given one and had a four year battle with the HSE for an appropriate wheelchair that met my need as a person with a Rare Neuro-muscular degenerative disease. For those 4 years I was 'living' in hell, as was my twin with the same disease.

We are still living in a medical/HSE caused hell, because other services we need are denied.

This is a country where I was given incontinent pad underwear rather than a Personal Assistant (PA) to help me to the toilet.

Where there is another woman helped into incontinent underwear at 8am and must stay (unchanged-wet and soiled) all day until nightfall when a carer comes to put her to bed. This is now standard community care practice. Condoned, facilitated, organised by public health nurses.

This is a country where adults needing hip replacements, in dire pain and disability, can wait 3 years for surgery.

Where those needing heart procedures must live on a death tightrope before being called.

Where scans are delayed because there are no weekend radiologist's on duty to do them.

Or more seriously people must wait years for.

Where children needing medical assessments psychology, psychiatry, speech and language, autism assessments, all languish in a poverty of living no rich person does.

This is a country where there is a three year waiting list to see a neurologist. (there are more neurologists per capita in Mongolia than there are in Ireland) meanwhile living 'dangerously' undiagnosed, untreated, uncared for.

This is a country where patients, like myself and twin sister with a Rare disease cannot get care in Ireland yet are REFUSED overseas care because of a consultants arrogant decision that because there's no cure , there's no point.

(NB: It was two centres of excellence in the UK who diagnosed our disease - Irish medics ignored us and disbelieved).

This is a country that CANNOT diagnose, treat, or care for many rare diseases. 

This is a country where community physiotherapy offers only four sessions per 6 months and these comprise giving paper print-outs of exercises to do, when 'hands on' physiotherapy is required for muscle spasm and severe pain. I could go on.

Those who can afford insurance have simply no idea how the other half lives.

A walk through the Blackrock clinic, the Beacon Hospital and St Vincent's private, then through our public hospitals will enlighten those ignorant of the widening gulf of medical care in Ireland very quickly.

The general population, neither ill or disabled or old, can not envisage how life is a real struggle when health services are just not there. They fully believe there IS a public service equal to private health care.

No matter the rhetoric from Finian McGrath or Simon Harris about improvements, extra money, people are screaming in abject misery and not being heard.

I hear all this from my disabled friends, from rare disease patients, from older sick people. I hear and I am appalled.

I will be attending the 'Still Waiting' health campaign at Wynns' Hotel, Dublin this Sat 17th June at 2pm.

We cannot stay away. We cannot morally, ethically, 'do nothing'.

Complicity in State Health Care neglect and non-provision is cruelty. Ignoring, turning a blind eye to sick, disabled, old, suffering people, is a Human Rights violation.

Health care IS a Human Right but in Ireland we citizens have NO constitutional RIGHT to health care. NONE. Is this why successive Governments have simply not provided for the poor , uninsured Irish citizen?

I am standing up for Human Rights to Health Care. A two tiered system is, frankly, nothing more than a quiet, back room, euthanasia policy for the poor, uninsured person reliant on state care. We must protest.

To do nothing is NOT an option.

Dr Margaret Kennedy

Wicklow

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