Healthy Society, Healthy Lives

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Waiting Lists And Overcrowding Kills 350 People Annually
(Irish Association Of Emergency Medicine)

This is quite literally a matter of life and death. Responding to the crisis of overcrowding that grips Irish hospitals every winter, the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine stated that leaving patients on hospital trolleys accounts for roughly 350 needless deaths every year. These figures have been corroborated by the General Secretary of the INMO, Phil NÍ Sheaghdha, who has confirmed that 50% more patients die in Irish hospitals than those with safe staffing levels. Peole Before Profit support nurses claims for a pay rise to bring them in line with other healthcare professionals. We would end all forms of pay apartheid to retain proper staffing levels to make our hospitals safer.

Being poor is also really bad for your health. On average, wealthier people live seven years more than those stuck in consistent disadvantage. Poorer women are also eight times more likely to smoke than their wealthier counterparts with all of the health problems that go along with this.16 But even if we control for these lifestyle issues, poorer people still die younger.

Reflecting on the growing health divide, Dr Marian O’ Reilly, chief nutritionist for Safefood Ireland noted that “People on low incomes eat less well and are at higher risk of certain diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers, and diet is part of the situation….it costs extra to eat a healthy balanced diet rather than a diet that’s very highly processed with low levels of variety and low in fruit and vegetables. For those on low incomes, in particular families with kids, it can take up to a third of their total income to buy a healthy week’s food.” Our mental health services are also in crisis.

Mental Health In Crisis

In 2018, the Chairman of the Mental Health Commission, John Saunders, denounced the government for its funding of mental health services in Ireland. According to a report by his Agency the problems in the area include:

  • A lack of funding for counselling and family services
  • Staff shortages at the Central Mental Hospital
  • The use of prisons as dumping grounds for mentally ill patients
  • The seclusion of adults with severe mental health problems in dirty – community based residences.
  • There are also more than 7,000 children with mental health issues waiting on community and psychological supports.

This is as callous as it is short sighed. Funding children and adults with mental health difficulties is not only the right thing to do – it also provides the best chance of saving money in the longer term as people get the support they need to integrate into society and build their own lives.  People Before Profit would increase the mental health budget by €307 million to bring spending in line with Vision for Change. We would also increase the health and wellbeing budget by €275 million in 2019 including €40 million for children’s health and wellbeing.