St. James’s Tweets its Fear of a Viral

Yesterday I blogged about it being a year since St. James’s Hospital told me that I would have to wait six months until it could perform surgery on my tailbone area to remove an ugly and painful pilonidal sinus. This is an infection which if left untreated can have serious and life threatening consequences, and I have been the proud owner of a nest of them for almost a decade – thanks to a series of medical professionals’ failure to diagnose it correctly. A year is more than long enough to wait for treatment, and the only correspondence I have had from the hospital has been vaguely threatening letters demanding to know whither I still intend having this surgery. James’s sends such letters out in the hope that some people fail to reply, in which case the hospital will save money by striking them from the list. Once this blog post was published I decided to share it with the hospital via Twitter, along with the consultant with whom I spoke last year, and the Minister for Health. No one responded save for the administrator with responsibility for the hospital’s Twitter account.

Where one might have expected a sympathetic response from the hospital, what I received was an obnoxious and patronising scolding from ‘Seamus (probably not the administrator’s real name).’ What I was told to do was email Mr. Brian Mehigan’s (the consultant’s) secretary, and then slapped – as with a wet trout – with “This is not for Social Media.” Does ‘Seamus’ think for one moment that I have not already mailed Mr Mehigan personally? It is not his secretary’s contact details that are published on the contacts list on the hospital website. More to the point – I have now waited a whole year, and this social media approach is not intended to be a gentle reminder. It is a protest. Of course, now I will mail the consultant’s secretary – along with the consultant, the hospital board of management, my TD, and the Minister for Health.


Not for social media?! St. James’s Hospital has sat on this problem for an entire year; a year in which this problem has stopped me from sitting. If this problem is not appropriate for social media, then let us all just bear in mind that my grievances were aired on the same day that the newspaper and television media announced that the quality of healthcare in Ireland has fallen, in a single year, from fourteenth in Europe to its present ranking of twenty-second – worse than Slovenia. In fact this country’s healthcare is on a par with Romania, and when it comes to Romania I am still haunted by pictures of neglected and malnourished Romanian orphans making little animals from their own faeces as though it were plasticine – in Romanian hospitals. So let’s not go telling me what does and doesn’t belong on media, social or otherwise!

The simple truth is that this is a scandal, and I will use my own blog and social media fora to highlight this as I see fit and as I please. Yes, it’s only a festering pus sack on my backside. I get that, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. James’s Hospital serves the healthcare needs of Dublin’s south inner city – an area of greater poverty than average, higher unemployment, greater social inequality, complex health problems, and a lower than average life expectancy. I know that I am not the only person being treated like this, and the ‘waiting list’ problem is only a problem insofar as it only affects those who cannot afford private medical insurance. None of my neighbours have the luxury of private healthcare, and so I refuse to take more resources from their care by sticking my money into an unjust and grossly unfair two-tier system. I chose Christian ministry in the Liberties, and so I will act in solidarity with my neighbours and friends. Please do not ever presume to lecture me on this again.

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