We can talk about the Budget and the medical card controversy until the cows come home and every expert has an opinion and theory about our nation’s finances.
But one hard fact that cannot be denied is that in our brave little country in 2013, there are many thousands of people who should be attending doctors for various ailments but they are not because they simply can’t afford to go.
This was also true before the big financial crash brought the Troika to our shores. But years of austerity has laid the disgraceful and shameful situation bare for all to see.
Such a situation should never have evolved and our friends and relations who avail of the National Health Service across the sea in Britain can only scratch their heads in wonder.
It is no good blaming doctors, especially GPs, because they are mostly dedicated people struggling with a flood of bills, insurances, wages and other expenses they have to pay to stay n business.
Indeed, many of them will actually have to close their practices if the current situation pertains. It is the rotten system that is to blame and it is the system that should be changed.
It would be very interesting to know if any Health Minister has ever instigated a report into how much it would actually cost to tear up the present arrangement and start again.
As I write, there are people who have lost their medical cards or are about to lose their medical cards and they will not be able to attend a doctor.
They mightn’t die as a result but their quality of life will definitely suffer as will they from conditions that could be banished or eased by a prescription.
There are even more people who have never had a medical card and never will and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence out there to show that, instead of going to their doctors, they are soldiering on because they need the money for household bills. If necessary, they will bite the bullet and take their children to the doctor but not themselves.
If it comes to pass, children under five years will be able to attend their GPs without charge from next year. It’s a start but it’s too little too late.
We are a small little country with a small population that amounts to less than the populations of many big cities around the world.
It should not be beyond a government (all governments to date are in the same boat of shame) to come up with a system that would serve the medical needs of the people adequately and, at the same time, properly reward the men and women who work so long and so hard to qualify as nurses, doctors and consultants.
They do one of the most important and difficult jobs of all and that should be recognised in monetary terms.
The former Tánaiste and health minister Mary Harney, once stated that she believed Ireland was “more Boston than Berlin”. What a pity, as far as medical care is concerned that we can’t be more like Birmingham, Blackpool or Bolton.