This was my first debate since my decision to run as an candidate and I was eager to make my position know to my constituents as well as take on the other candidates. The debate was lively and gave an accurate snap shot of the mood in the constituency. From the stage I had a view on a full house of passionate and angry people. The frustration of many was evident. Core issues addressed were jobs and health. From the comments and questions it appeared that there was a mix self employed and people in waged employment present. Some were struggling to keep their enterprises afloat, others dealing with the aftermath of loss of their livelihoods. There were also parents of students, newly qualified teachers and nurses who are faced with the reality of their loved ones being forced to find employment abroad.
Anger expressed at the recent measures to cease payment to student nurses was met by current political incumbents with statistics and neatly quoted figures attempting to justify draconian measures. The real life distress of those affected was not eased by these meaningless dull soundbites. A furious parent of a student nurse was clearly not appeased by the explanation that six billion euro had to be saved and frontline workers had to be sacrificed because of that. There was palatable fury at the refusal to acknowledge that while a glut of middle and upper management remain, much need front line services have been slashed in the health service. A patronising reference to the proud achievement of sustaining a partial A&E facility at Nenagh hospital was not received well by a community that are only too aware of the fact that anything less than 24hr A&E is not acceptable.
Resident politicians were taking credit for empty achievements without acknowledging the shortfalls that could leave constituents in the hazardous position of having no urgent care facility outside of specified hours. The impending loss of an ICU which would culminate in the demise of a surgical facility was another area of extreme concern.
This is an issue I feel strongly about and for which I will campaign strongly if elected to the Dáil. As outlined in my policies I propose an overhaul of the complete healthcare system and one on the main points of my policy is the establishment of “Urgent Care Facilities” within acceptable distances from every person in this country. The measurement of what is an “acceptable distance” is based on the “golden hour” rule as first introduced by R Adams Cowley (who was an American surgeon considered a pioneer in emergency medicine and the treatment of shock trauma). It basically states that the survival chances of a victim of a life threatening injury seriously diminish after 60 minutes. Therefore it is essential that we have a healthcare system that guarantees a level of urgent care within that time-frame. By establishing this on a national level I will ensure by extension that Nenagh hospital will have a full-time A&E facility. I will also support that the current surgical theatres are not only maintained but will also ensure that they will be of a state-of-the-art standard.