Pay up or die

I then came home, flicked on the TV and got into bed. The first ad on the TV was from the Government telling people that bowel cancer can kill, but not if caught in time. If Bertie Ahern or Mary Harney or Michael McDowell were within reach I would have killed them. Literally, I’m not joking.

This quote is from a woman who is dying from cancer because she is a public rather than a private patient. If she had private health insurance she would have been treated in time but because she is a public patient she was put on a long waiting list, this delay has resulted in her cancer becoming terminal.

Her case has been passionately discussed on Liveline over the last number of days (Her letter to Liveline is on the site and is worth reading). The response from most callers was one of anger, frustration and powerlessness.

This is a normal reaction for citizens living in a corrupt state. They, and everybody else, are very well aware of what the problem is – corruption, incompetence and political cowardice. They know that the political system will not help them; they know that unless they pay up they will not get access to treatment.

On Questions and Answers, the Minister for Health, Mary Harney responded like politicians always do in corrupt states. She went into denial – It’s a great system, mistakes will happen, when they do, it’s someone else’s fault.

She blamed the victim’s doctor; she blamed hospital consultants and, incredibly, claimed that Ireland does not have a two tier health system. Harney leads a party that passionately believes in promoting private health care for profit over public health care for everybody.

There are, of course, many other reasons why Ireland has a third world health system. Recently, the Irish people agreed that it was ok for our Prime Minister to accept large payments from businessmen while he held public office.

For so long as Irish citizens accept such low standards from their politicians they will continue to get the same low standards in public services, with the same consequences

New depths of stupidity

We witnessed a good example of Irish political stupidity on last Monday’s Primetime special on RTE 1. Junior Health Minister Tim O’Malley was being interviewed about the lack of psychiatric care for children.

Here’s some brief background; there are only 13 psychiatric beds for children in Ireland. Norway, with a similar population has 30 times as many. Many reports have been commissioned and allowed gather dust over the last 40 years. After each report politicians promise that action will be taken and then break their promise by doing nothing.

There are now more than 3,000 children on a waiting list just to get their first psychiatric assessment, never mind actual treatment. As a result of this political incompetence and neglect, thousands of children and their families are condemned to endless suffering.

This situation is not unique. Incompetence, neglect and corruption are rampant at practically every level of Irish society and in particular within the public and civil service.

O’Malley, however, plumbed to new depths of ineptitude when he couldn’t even lie effectively. When he was challenged about the disgraceful waiting lists he blamed the doctors.

He claimed that they deliberately ensure that waiting lists reach into the hundreds because it makes them feel very powerful. There could be no misunderstanding of what O’Malley was saying and what he meant.

Naturally, there was anger and outrage within the medical community, so you would think that even someone as stupid as O’Malley would accept that he was wrong to make such allegations and apologise. Not our Tim, his silly explanation added insult to injury.

“I regret if a couple of sentences, taken from a lengthy interview, gave an impression that I was of any different opinion,”

Fine Gael’s Dr Liam Twomey described O’Malley as a stupid, ignorant, arrogant fool.

That’s just about right.

Blind corruption

The ability to deny reality is a vital necessity when living in a corrupt state. Countless thousands of citizens who regularly rob, cheat, humiliate and otherwise abuse their fellow citizens must have a psychological ability to see their actions as normal. They must be able to compartmentalise their crimes so that they do not conflict with their social and family activities.

Irish bank officials, for example, who robbed millions from their customers over the years, taught their children that stealing was wrong and yet went to work every day and stole from their customers without ever accepting that they were committing the same crime.

We have seen over the years that Irish politicians, solicitors, businessmen, civil servants, policemen and many other sections of Irish society have developed this Jekyll and Hyde ability of acting corruptly while pretending to live normal lives.

This pretence, however, can be upset when questions are asked by somebody from outside the jurisdiction, somebody who has lived, trained and worked in a jurisdiction not infected by the disease of corruption. This was the case in the Neary scandal. Dr. Michael Neary destroyed the lives of scores of healthy women by unnecessarily removing their wombs.

His activities were obviously wrong but nobody asked questions until the arrival of a nurse from the UK, a non corrupt jurisdiction. Despite coming under severe pressure to keep quiet this woman persisted and an investigation was carried out by a group of Dr. Neary’s fellow doctors.

It should come as no surprise that these doctors, who, after all, live and operate within a corrupt state, found that Dr. Neary had no case to answer. In fact, one of them commented that Neary’s patients should consider themselves lucky to have the services of such an accomplished doctor.

When the case was reviewed by another doctor outside our corrupt jurisdiction he immediately concluded that there were grounds for grave concern, finally forcing the Irish Government to conduct an independent inquiry. (This report is well written and worth reading)

As a result of the scandal, a number of the victims made an official complaint to the Irish Medical Council against the doctors who carried out the initial review of Neary’s activities.

Like Irish solicitors and bankers, Irish doctors are allowed to investigate themselves in secret. When a few of the victims made the modest request (13th item) for permission to attend the fitness to practice hearing, they were, of course, denied.

The legal protection enjoyed by The Irish Medical Council is so strong that they could not even confirm that the meeting they held to deny the victims their request actually took place.

Deadly ignorance

Hardly a day passes in Ireland without some new report of corruption or gross incompetence usually in the Government/public administration sectors.

Whether it’s Government ministers prostituting State offices for monetary gain, public servants robbing and abusing the elderly, so called State regulatory bodies pathetically failing to even make an effort at doing their jobs or just ordinary everyday criminal negligence, the response is always the same – Denial, excuses, blaming somebody else. Never, ever, will you witness these so called State servants actually taking responsibility.

The latest example of this never ending stream of incompetence and corruption broke yesterday. Up to a hundred children were put at risk of contacting Hepatitis C between 1991 and 1994 because of inadequate screening.

To date nobody has accepted responsibility, this is normal in our banana republic. The hospital has claimed it did not have funding for proper screening, the Dept of Health have said they never received requests for funding. Making excuses, blaming somebody else is normal in our banana republic.

The hospital knew nine months ago but kept the whole thing hushed up because they claim they wanted to first make a list of all those put at risk. I personally do not believe this. Secrecy is the greatest weapon of the corrupt and incompetent, especially when that secrecy is encouraged by the State itself. If the media had not uncovered this latest scandal it is likely the hospital would have kept the whole thing secret.

As always, it was not a so called State regulatory body that uncovered the scandal. In almost all cases Irish State authorities will cover up corruption and incompetence. It was the media (RTE News) that informed the public. In this banana republic the media, along with a few courageous whistleblowers, is the only source of corruption exposure.

A bill going through our irrelevant and incompetent parliament is set to clamp down on such media exposes. In addition to this latest muzzle on media investigation the State is also planning to give itself the power to close down tribunals of investigation.

In the recent polls, a majority of citizens said they did not think that our Prime Minister should resign because he took money from businessmen while he held a senior ministry.

These people are politically ignorant. They cannot (or will not) see the connection between corrupt politicians/State officials and the enormous damage this corruption eventually does to every level of society.

They cannot see that their ignorance can kill their fellow citizens.

Death and politics

A man bled to death in an Irish hospital while his family looked helplessly on. Facilities and medical care was available to help the man but they were refused. Why? Because of the incompetence, in fighting and arrogance of so called medical professionals in the so called Irish health service.

Meanwhile, as the grieving family tried to come to terms with the shocking report into the man’s death the person in charge of the health service, Mary Harney, was being praised by all and sundry for the quality of her political leadership.

Nobody has been held accountable for this man’s death, nobody ever will. He is just one of many people who have died while in the care of the Irish health service and to date not a single person has been brought to book

Probe finds doctors are operating price cartel

The Competition Authority is investigating doctor’s charges:

HUGE numbers of Irish doctors are operating a cartel which fixes prices for a range of their services. This is the central allegation of a major new Competition Authority (CA) investigation. And the authority has told the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) it now intends to take legal proceedings. In a letter to the IMO, the authority says the price-fixing “caused and continues to cause, significant harm to consumers”. The IMO represents approximately 6,000 doctors, including 2,000 self-employed GPs. Medical sources said that while this investigation had to do with a limited range of services, it is bound to raise questions about GP charges generally.

HSE contractor carried out work on senior officer’s home

No suggestion of conflict of interest, I guess it is a small country.

A Dublin building company that has won lucrative contracts from the Health Service Executive (HSE) carried out work on the house of a senior HSE officer who is involved in the tendering process.

Owenbee Services, based in Donabate, Co Dublin, carried out building work on the house of Pat Gamble, an engineering services manager with the Dublin North East division of the HSE. Gamble approved a number of health centre maintenance contracts awarded to Owenbee and Mallerwood, a firm with which Owenbee has worked on several projects.

Eamonn Ryan, a director of Owenbee, confirmed to The Sunday Business Post that his company had carried out work on Gamble’s house near Naas, Co Kildare. Gamble, speaking through a HSE spokeswoman, and Ryan both said that the full market rate was paid.

The docile Irish

On the 7th February last, I published an email written by Irish actor Brendan Gleeson describing the horrific conditions his parents had to endure in an Irish hospital. On last Friday’s Late Late Show he again spoke about the matter and because it was live, it was possible to see and feel his deep anger and hurt. Here’s what he had to say;

‘There are people here whose parents are going to die in disgusting circumstances. The only reason people aren’t burning the offices of the health board is because the staff are keeping the people, in as much as they can, in some sort of human situation, but this is absolutely disgusting. John O’Shea of GOAL should come into Ireland and we’ll give him some charity money and let him sort out what we are doing to our old people.

Now I’d like to ask, if they don’t sort this thing in three to six months, anybody who votes for this crowd to get back in next time, might as well shoot themselves. I’ll be honest with you; I don’t think much of the other crowd either. There’s no point in being negative and funny about it, this is really really upsetting.

Do you know what it’s like if your going to vote for this crowd at the moment, this is the way I feel about it – That if somebody came in and started punching your mother and father around the room and you went up and patted them on the back and said “sure I know you must be upset’. It is disgusting that we are allowing people to die when we have billions, a baboon could sort this bloody thing out.

The professor Drumm’s and the Mary Harney’s and all this shower and…you know what’s on the oncology department wall – Michael Martin’s name on a plaque, an oncology department where my mother in law was dying, where they were people on chairs with grieving people, there were people trying to fight for life and cling on to hope beside people who were dead – and this moron’s name is on a plaque, when he screwed the place from the time he went in to the time he left – what the bloody hell is going on?

You can watch the whole clip here.

At the end of my post last February, I asked the question – ‘Why are the Irish people so docile and politically ignorant? I would like to rephrase that. The Irish people are docile because they are politically ignorant.

It is only when an individual or political party emerges that can educate the Irish people in how to get angry that we will begin to see an end to the corruption, incompetence and arrogance that has blighted our country for decades.