Ger Walsh Column 24/08/17 : the

Ger Walsh Column 24/08/17

| August 24, 2017

A&E can provide a very good service, sometimes the patients are the problem

Bad experiences at A&E, long waiting times and horror stories about time spent in hospital Emergency Departments regularly make the headlines. In fact such is the picture often painted about various A&Es that some people are now reluctant to attend them, even when they need urgent medical attention.


I have to say that it was with a certain amount of dread that I turned up at the A&E in Wexford Hospital over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

As the story goes no time is really a good time to arrive at A&E but if you were to pick a really bad time then the bank holiday weekend would be it.

So it was with a bit of trepidation that I walked through the doors of the hospital mid-afternoon on the Holiday Sunday. My concerns were not lessened by having to struggle my way through an intimidating group of young people who looked rather menacing, to say the least.

Once inside I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was no a mass of people waiting for attention.

The lady on the reception could not have been more pleasant or helpful. However, as she took my details she was interrupted by an ignorant roar from one of the guys I had passed at the entrance.

They were now back inside and wanted to return to a restricted area to their ‘mate’.

And they were not prepared to wait which is why the lady on reception was subjected to some very unpleasant language.

There are clear signs in the ED telling people to stand back behind a line to give those at reception a bit of privacy. The gentleman behind me either could not read or did not care to heed any notices because if he had stood any closer he would have been perched on my back.

Formalities completed and fee paid I waited for the triage nurse to provide an assessment which she did after about ten minutes.

The Minor Injuries Clinic would be my next port of call and I went back to await the call which came within another ten minutes. As with the triage nurse the treatment could not have been more welcoming, friendly, thorough and reassuring.

An X-Ray was required and a wheelchair arrived to take me there without any delay and I was back in the Small Injuries Clinic complete with x-ray within ten minutes.

The experience was as positive as any visit to the hospital can be. Everything was operating efficiently and really it was an example of the health service at its best.

I believe that had I visited the previous day things might not have been so speedy. Nevertheless I think it is worth pointing out that it’s not all bad at the ED and it does provide a very good service a lot of the time which is not something that gets highlighted regularly.

However, a big problem for the ED, apart from lack of capacity at times, is the amount of hassle and disruption caused by people attending it.

There was a time when drunken chaos visited the ED only on Saturday night but the staff are contending with people literally out of their minds every night of the week at this stage. Indeed on that Sunday afternoon those who used foul and abusive language to the staff in mid-afternoon looked as if they had consumed more than a ham sandwich for their lunch.

As much as anything else it is the disruption caused by unruly visitors to the hospital that cause delays and impacts adversely on the experiences of others. It is something which needs to be tackled with offenders barred completely from the hospital and its grounds if necessary.



D’Arcy hits the ground running

Michael D’Arcy is really finding his feet in the Department of Finance where he has been a Minister of State now for just over two months. Although banished to the backbenches by Enda Kenny, D’Arcy is not without talent and he has very clear views on several aspects of government policy.

Over the course of the last couple of months he gave very interesting interviews to two national newspapers and both ended up as lead stories in the respective publications. He told the Daily Mail that high levels of personal taxes were frightening off some international firms from Ireland and in an extensive interview with the Examiner earlier this month he suggested that a third lower rate of income tax was desirable to prevent people on average wages paying top tax rates on their wages.

He also had interesting things to say about a welfare culture in some areas of the country.

It all suggests that the Gorey man who for so long operated in the shadows of Paul Kehoe and Liam Twomey, has made a very impressive start at the Department of Finance.

Now that he has his hands so close to the purse strings people locally will be keeping a keen watch to see if he can deliver funding to projects in the county.

Money must be found to develop Rosslare Port

With work on both the New Ross and Enniscorthy by-passes making great progress access to the county is well on the way to being transformed.

In particular the journey time between Wexford town and Dublin will be greatly reduced while the same will be true for all parts of the county and Waterford with the long tail backs in New Ross set to fade in to history.

While these two projects are very welcome more needs to be done, particularly now that it appears that Brexit is heading for a rather chaotic conclusion.

If as seems likely there is a so called ‘hard’ Brexit then it will be important for Ireland to be able to optimise its direct links with Europe and in that context Rosslare Europort could become a vital link for our exports.

There are plans at the moment to create a new entrance to the port and that project needs to be advanced as quickly as possible. Apart from the entrance the port itself needs investment to ensure that it has the facilities to provide the nation with a vital link for its exports in a post Brexit area.

The road from the Wexford Ring Road to the port also needs to be upgraded to ensure that it can cope with anticipated increased traffic volumes in the future and the possibility of using rail freight, both on the Dublin/Wexford line and the old Waterford/Rosslare line to the port should also be examined.

Vacant houses will not provide a magic solution for homeless problem

The month of August is normally a time when politics is pretty much suspended as everyone heads away for a bit of a break. This year has been a little different, influenced no doubt by the fact that most people believe that there will be an election within the next twelve months which meant that continued activity on the ground and over the airways was important, especially for those who will probably have to defend their seats in less than a year.

One story that just would not go away, holidays or no holidays, was homelessness and all the issues that surround it.

To listen to some people now you would think the problem could be solved if only the vacant houses were brought into use.

I know that it seems bizarre to have so many empty houses while thousands of people have no homes. However, the number of vacant properties as measured by the census is probably a gross over estimation of the actual number of empty houses that are really unoccupied.

However, there is no doubt that there are a good number of houses around that could usefully be used by some of those who are currently homeless. However, if the State has to go a legal route to get hold of them, regardless of any changes in the law, it will be a long and costly procedure.

Apart from the legal costs, the cost of upgrading these properties to get them to meet various regulations would also be quite substantial, often greater than the price of actually building a new house.

So I don’t think grabbing vacant properties from the elderly, ever how sensible it seems on paper, will do much to deal with the housing problem in the short term.


Leo Who?

I loved the story about the J1 student who didn’t recognise Leo Varadkar when he turned up very casually dressed at the Chicago restaurant where she worked.

She first kept him waiting and then seat him at a very small table in a corner.

When she did actually realise who he was she said she was ‘mortified’. Before he departed shed got Leo to pose for a pic with her and a mate which she posted on twitter with an account of the experience.

But she need not have worried about failing to recognise the Taoiseach or the fact that she kept him waiting. Leo tweeted back that the food and service were both first class.

The irony of the whole thing is that despite the student not actually recognising the Taoiseach at first the subsequent photo and tweet meant that there was nothing low key or private about Leo’s visit to the restaurant.

A lesson in why you should take the bus to the airport

It’s always a bit of a pain returning from a sun holiday, having to make your way through the airport, collect the luggage and then find your car. Often that involves a bus journey to the long stay car parks in the dead of night.

Pain and all as it is spare a thought for Stephanie Bland. The thirty one year old Londoner flew off to Portugal for a break with her boyfriend. She travelled to Stansted airport in her fifteen year old mini and handed it over to the meet and greet people for airport parking.

Imagine her horror when on returning she found her car on the back of an AA truck with a seized engine and essentially a write off.

The airport told her it was all down to the age of the vehicle and wear and tear. She said the car was perfectly good when she left it and blamed reckless driving by airport staff. Lawyers are involved now.

That’s why I think it is safer to let Wexford Bus do the driving when you are heading away for a break!

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