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When a medical appointment is a refusal

by Jimmy Rhatigan

SOME MAY accuse us of suffering from an inferiority complex.

No problem, we should be able to handle that.

Throw in the sliotar and pull hard.

We have known for yonks that we have a two-tier health system in our country.

We have those who can afford to pay and hence don’t have to fret about waiting for weeks, months or even years to be seen by a specialized medic.

Then there are those who genuinely don’t have the cash to fork out so there is no real choice but to choose the scenic route.

The late Kierny Brennan of Castlecomer, a man who cared dearly for his fellow man and woman, summed it up perfectly.

“A friend said he had got an appointment to see a consultant 18 months later,” he told Kilkenny Press at the time.

“That’s not an appointment,” he told the woman who had medical complications.

“That’s a refusal.”

Sadly, the disaster that is so oft our health system is mirrored in daily life as we have the privileged classes and then we have the man and woman who work for a living.

For decades, we were led to believe that all things were equal under the stewardship of that wonderful woman called Mother Ireland.


The notion was that we were all equal.

The reality was and still is that some of us are more equal than others.

I remember well an eminent legal eagle of nigh half a century ago telling me that your address in our city could decide how you got on in a local court case at the time.

I put his words to a test.

He was bang on.

If a man or woman from a street in what was known locally as a ‘poor area’, was before Justice Whoever for assault, he or she would get the full rigors of the law.

A similar case involving a boy or girl from a ‘posh’ area tended to be given the benefit of the doubt.

“A member of a respectable local family; his actions were out of character,” could easily have been the justice’s remark.

Today, we regularly hear about civil servants, politicians and their buddies getting schoolbags of money for sitting on their backsides and trying to look busy.

Politicians have no problem heaping money into their own pockets and begrudge giving pensioners an extra fiver in their measly pensions, to which workers contributed in taxes over lifetimes.


Similarly, getting a few extra euros or more than likely cents, for honest workers like dustmen, carpenters, tailors, soldiers, sailors, nurses and several other health care employees is akin to asking public representatives to have all their back teeth pulled out at once.

We can beat around all the bushes we like, but the bitter reality is that those who fit neatly into the species that makes up our Golden Circle have their hands firmly on the driving seat of the Fort Knox Express and they won’t let go.

Those who may consider themselves as our aristocracy will more often than not defend the tough tactics of bankers and the ruthlessness of vulture funds that grind, what some term lower and middle class families, into Hell on Earth.

Meanwhile parents and children are in temporary accommodation in local hotels, unfortunate men and women are living, many, sadly dying, on our streets.

Those whose lives were battered and bruised while in care, by the Cervical Cancer Scandal and by the Mothers and Babies disgrace are often fobbed off and put through hoops as they seek justice.

Our health system may in time be dragged screaming into a modern and efficient service.


Oh for a modern day Doctor Noel Browne, a man who did so much for our people when he was Minister for Health from 1948 to 1951.

To bring change to what happens or doesn’t happen depending on what ‘class’ you are tagged to will be a gargantuan task.

Those who get used to riches and power will cling to their privileges by their finger nails.

An elderly gentleman leaning on a wall in Thomastown may have put his finger on the problem.

A member of a fox hunting team who had got lost, clip clopped to the local sage and asked:

“Excuse me, but do you know if the aristocracy passed this way?”

The man’s reply was brilliant if chastening.

“They did,” he grinned.

“About 400 years ago.”

For too long we have been bullied by a toffee-nosed elite who still see themselves as aristocracy while the rest of us are the plebs.

But, not all assholes ride horses.

Some will be on donkeys, the mode of transport they may have started out with before they wriggled their way onto a Gravy Train that has a pass that says VIP.

The latter, we suggest could well be an abbreviation for Very Impudent Prat.

Change is desperately needed.

Our Government trinity has shown that it doesn’t care about waiting lists or any other hardships.

It is not up to us to tell people who they should vote for.

But it has to be obvious that the present bunch has no intention of breaking old habits that have been crippling so many of us for far too long.

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