Lack of hospital beds a major failure of political leadership


Her newspaper highlighted the crisis at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) and the utter outrage for patients, families and staff there (“Report finds emergency patients at risk of harm in Limerick”, Irish Independent, 18 June). Why do we still have such crises after 25 or more years?

believe the ultimate responsibility lies with our politicians who have failed to scrutinize rigorously the HSE expert reports on the restructuring of local hospital services. Your readers might find the following evidence to support this conclusion.

A 2008 report for the HSE on acute hospital services in the Midwest HSE region recommended reconfiguring services at UHL, Ennis Hospital, Nenagh Hospital and St. John’s.

It was recommended that UHL would require the provision of 676 beds as a result of the elimination of 24-hour acute care at the other hospitals.

In the June 17 HIQA report, the number of beds in the hospital stood at 432 in mid-2020, which is 244 fewer than the 2008 recommended number.

To put it bluntly, that means more than a decade ago the HSE, the Department of Health and our politicians were aware of the need for 676 beds.

Former President of the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine, Fergal Hickey, regularly reminded our politicians that the real problem in our emergency departments is the lack of hospital beds, but our politicians have not fixed it. Why?

In her book Health, Medicine & Politics in Ireland, 1900-1970, Ruth Barrington notes that health care is hotly debated in general elections, but does not determine the outcome of the election.

Our poor infrastructure in the public hospital system is one of the great failures of political leadership in the last three decades.

dr John Barton, Ballymoneen Road, Galway

As costs soar, caregivers’ battle only gets harder

I am a full-time caregiver for my son, so I am writing to you on behalf of all the caregivers. The cost of living crisis is particularly affecting those of us on low incomes who have more expenses than most families.

We get €224 per week. You may recall that the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) was €350 because people can’t seem to live with less. Isn’t it about time caregivers were recognized and properly paid?

My son requires care 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, as do many young and old people who are cared for by the family. These are babies, children, wives, husbands, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, mothers and fathers.

Everyone needs grooming at some point in their life. Some have exceptional care needs and some of our homes are like mini hospitals, including mine. Who takes care of the caregiver?

Aisling McNiffe, Ardclough, County Kildare

Far from being “quaint,” the haka is rooted in Maori culture

I am writing as an Irish-New Zealander in reply to David Ryan’s letter questioning why the haka is still legal in the 21st century (“We must overcome sneaky All Blacks tactics next time,” Letters, 4. July).

In his correspondence, Mr. Ryan states, “This ‘war dance’ should be seen for what it is…a throwback to colonial times when it was viewed as a quaint ritual.”

I can assure you that the haka remains an important part of Maori protocol to this day.

Certainly I don’t need to remind Irish audiences that the colonial era was all about conquering indigenous peoples and suppressing their cultural practices.

Pippa Black, Gurteen, Co Sligo

Out of solidarity with women, the West must sanction the Taliban

Declan Foley asks how we can watch the Taliban oppress women (“There is a much better option to help people of Afghanistan,” Letters, July 4).

His solution is to allow those Afghans who want to leave Afghanistan to enter Western countries. But who can afford it, and what happens to those who can’t?

Of course, the answer is not to invade Afghanistan. As Declan wrote, the Russian-US-led coalition invasions were disastrous failures.

However, if the West, in its belated defense of Ukraine, can impose extreme sanctions on Russia, it certainly can do the same on the Taliban’s criminal treatment of women and girls.

The Taliban and of course the Saudi ruling family should be ostracized until they respect the equal rights of all people in their societies.

Sammy Harrington, Castletownbere, Co Cork Lack of hospital beds a major failure of political leadership

Fry Electronics Team

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