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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When is a joke not a joke and when A&E is sidelined

This week’s Wexford People leads with a comment that John Browne TD made at the Rally in support of Wexford General Hospital last Sunday night. As part of his address to 1,000 people, including myself who had gathered in Whites Hotel, Deputy Browne told us that his daughter who’s in a wheelchair and is 23 asked him to oppose cutting back opening hours at Wexford’s A&E because he claimed she needed it when drunk and that she didn’t want to stop drinking.
It’s a shame that the meeting’s purpose has been diverted by such a remark because people turned out on an autumn evening to listen to politicians, a consultant, nurses, EMT’s and staff set out their concerns about the future of Accident and Emergency at Wexford General Hospital. Our deputy, Brendan Howlin had worked hard to promote the meeting for some time and has tenaciously highlighted how the hospital is being run primarily by accountants rather than doctors. His website contains a petition and if you follow the supplied link you can sign the petition and add your name to the list of those opposed to any downgrading of our generla hospital.

Lets get to the point of the meeting, Dr Colm Quigley succinctly set out what the HSE network group are looking at in terms of re-configuration of services. He set out which services had been transferred to ensure a better service to the county and what he felt he needed to ensure acute services and A&E could continue to be delivered better at Wexford General. Nobody demurred from the theme of the meeting. If anything the meeting could have gone on for longer as the chairman brought down the curtain with a motion committing to re-meet when the network report is published. I had the chance at the end of the meeting to talk with Dr Quigley and ask if the ambulance service was capable of delivering a service to Co Wexford in the context of A&E moving to Waterford and as to whether the EMT’s were available to crew ambulances. His reply was one that gave me a sense of both the betrayal and frustration that is obvious in some consultants at middle size hospitals such as Sligo or Wexford at present.
I don’t accept John Browne’s explanation of the comments as joke, no more than I think Tommy Tiernan’s Anti-Jewish remarks at Electric Picnic were funny. Both Tiernan and Browne have effectively highjacked a serious issue for the purpose of self promotion. Families of politicians are effectively off limits in the context of political attacks, but how does one respond when a politician humiliates a member of his family as a means of self-promotion. As I listened to John speak, I could barely believe what I was hearing. What John said was gormless, crass and in bad taste. It is telling that he believes most 23 year olds interaction with A&E is to deal with excessive alcohol consumption. Last year I attended a conference where Senator Phil Prendergast set out how medical staff in A&E’s feel threatened by violence from people with excessive alcohol. It’s no laughing matter, I can tell you. He doesn’t need to explain himself to the people of Wexford however and most of important of all, he needs to apologise to his daughter

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