Chronicle of a death foretold: we cannot stand idly by as lives like brave Susie’s are sacrificed to system

WE write in the aftermath of a death foretold, the unnecessary death of a young Kilkenny mother from cancer.

In her life, as in her death, Susie Long highlighted a fundamental human right

— access to a decent health service. She bore witness to the obscenity of our four-tier health service — one for the rich, another for the less-well-off, one for city dwellers, another for the rest. She was crystal clear about why her cancer had been allowed to progress: it was because she had been let down by a health system the Government refuses to fund properly — the public health system.

In a speech made last May in Kilkenny, at the opening of a new services day unit in her local hospital (St Luke’s), Susie Long mentioned the death of a Kilkenny woman who fell asleep at the wheel, exhausted, while driving her child home after a specialist consultation in Dublin.

Her son suffered from hearing loss, not a rare disorder, yet the treatment he needed was available only in Dublin.

The robotic centralisation of cancer care –– as per Government policy –– will add to the burden of many mothers and cancer sufferers.

Many groups have worked tirelessly to expose the scandalous shortcomings of our health service and to underline the impact of Government health policy on the lives of ordinary people.

We now join with Susie Long in calling upon the trade union movement to support our efforts, and those of others, to build a decent public health service open to all irrespective of income or address.

Susie Long spoke from the heart: her sense of solidarity will continue to be an inspiration to all of us who knew her. What a waste of a wonderful life — a mother, a wife, a friend, a fellow activist.

No one, now, can stand idly by.

Janette Byrne

Patients Together

82 Finglas Park

Dublin 11

Marie O’Connor

Health Services Action Group

Rathdown Road

Dublin 7

Peadar McMahon

Monaghan Community Alliance

Dr John Barton

Consultant physician

Portiuncula Hospital

Ballinasloe

Co Galway

Peadar McNamara

Ennis General Hospital

Development Committee

Dr Christine O’Malley

Consultant geriatrician

Doctors’ Alliance

Dr Eamonn Shanahan

Doctors’ Alliance

Prof John Nolan

Consultant endocrinologist

Doctors’ AllianceProf Orla Hardiman

Consultant neurologist

Doctors’ Alliance Philomena Canning

Midwife

National Birth Alliance Nuala Slattery

Clare Cancer Concern Uria O’Mahoney

Holistic Action Group

Una Ní Chuinn

PRO

Roscommon Hospital Action Group

Rose Harrington

Lymphoma Ireland Support

Dr Teresa Graham

Sociologist Dr Paul O’Connor

Consultant anaesthetist

Letterkenny General Hospital

Co Donegal

Conor, Fergus, Áine McLiamCallan

Co Kilkenny

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