The new health minister had to, quite rightly, give a seriously ill woman a grovelling apology after one of his ‘jobsworths’ sent a wholly inappropriate reply to a letter she had sent regarding the poor treatment she had received from the HSE. The woman, from Cork, started her letter with an ironic tone, congratulating the Dept. of Health about the ‘exceptional care and treatment’ she had received. But if the ‘jobsworth’ had actually continued to read he would, like the rest of us, hopefully been appalled by the outrageous way in which she was treated. Worst of all she said, was she wasn’t given a scan because, according to the letter, “I stupidly forgot that scans are not performed after 6pm”.
Hospital staff expect flexible shopping hours
Most hospital services lie idle on Saturdays and Sundays, or 28% of the time, because elective treatments, such as scans, are not available. Union Rules is Union rules, you know. Similar treatments are not available in the evenings, when it best suits many people, because public hospitals work 1950s type hours. We presume that the medical staff and management of the hospitals take full advantage of grocery stores being open on a Saturday, due to the convenience of doing shopping on a day off. Similarly we notice shopping streets thronged with people, some of whom are probably hospital staff, on Sundays, as they flit in and out of clothes retailers, buying clothes on a day and at a time that suits them.
The sweet smell of sweat
We like keeping things simple at ISME. For the sake of our sums we’ll assume the types of hospital treatments we’re referring to are available 9 to 5, five days a week. For simplicity we’ll call it a forty hour week. If those same facilities were kept open until nine o’clock on weekdays and 9 to 5 on Saturdays and Sundays our calculator suggests that would add 36 extra hours a week of available treatment time. That’s a 90% increase on what they’re doing now, just by using the existing facilities. In business it’s simply called ‘sweating the assets’.
Get the points, not an education
Similarly, today is the last day for CAO change of mind for those who have done their Leaving Cert exams. They will fret for the next eight weeks or so worrying whether they have managed to grab a third level college course. The demand for those college courses determines the points required and with growing numbers doing the Leaving Cert, points have a habit of rising, excluding many well qualified people from their choice of course. Whether a course demands 350 points or 550 points is about space more than academic ability. Securing your points by rote learning or attending one of the many flourishing grind schools attest to that.
Double student numbers, halve CAO points
Meanwhile, take a stroll through any of the country’s 3rd level campuses at the moment. You’ll be struck by the lovely silence, only broken by the excited voices of foreign teenagers. These teenagers come to Ireland to learn English and often stay on campus. If summer time is OK for language classes how come college downtime (about five months if you include other Christmas and Easter breaks) is not good enough for a second cohort of 3rd level students to be educated, immediately helping to lower the points requirements and as noted about the hospitals above, by ‘sweating the assets’.
Stating the ******** obvious
The reason? The dead hand of an out of date public service trade union mentality that set boundaries back in the 1950s and which has never been moved on. That’s why cancer patients continue to suffer because ‘it’s after scan o’clock’.