Did anyone vote to run down our health service?

YES, I too would like a referendum on our health service as Dr Christine O’Malley and Dr Bertie Daly suggest (Letters, June 27).

I suspect there are many like myself whose Lisbon vote was influenced by concerns about health being treated like any other service in a free market.

Health Minister Mary Harney makes no secret of her belief in the private health sector. Some people, myself included, believe she is intent on running down the public health service in order to promote the private sector.

Why is the HSE budget so written in stone that we cannot hire frontline staff while new equipment and facilities lie idle? Meanwhile patients wait and suffer.

Why are we training nurses and physiotherapists at great cost to the taxpayer when we won’t employ most of them despite the obvious need for their skills?

My daughter, a physiotherapist, emigrated last week because she had given up on a job in the HSE a year after qualifying. Many of her colleagues have already gone.

Yet there is an apparently open-ended budget for storing indefinitely the suspect evoting machines.

My local cancer hospital, the wonderful St Luke’s in Rathgar, is to be closed or, in HSE speak, “relocated”. The HSE says we need large cancer ‘centres of excellence’ for the best outcomes, yet the Government gives tax breaks to small private hospitals which can supply cancer services as they see fit.

Around the country people are living in fear of further cuts in the limited health services available or of their local hospital being closed.

Last week RTÉ’s Prime Time highlighted problems in the maternity services. Dr Peter McKenna, master of Holles Street Hospital in Dublin, demanded of the HSE spokesman why a consultancy report with which he and colleagues had collaborated was still unpublished after a year. No adequate answer was forthcoming. The HSE spokesman conveyed a message that they know best, that there are plenty of resources and we (the patients) have got to change and accept different ways of doing things.

I voted for the Green Party but never thought they would end up in a coalition supporting co-located public/private hospitals. Did anybody vote for what is currently going on in our health services?

The people should indeed be asked about this key area, as Dr O’Malley and Dr Daly suggested.

Enid O’Dowd

Moyne Road

Ranelagh

Dublin 6

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