As the Irish economy continues to worsen, and as the government continues to make deeper and deeper cuts into the public services, more and more working class people are finding themselves ineligible for the Medical Card. At the same time, as wages fall and unemployment rises, fewer people are able to afford private health insurance. What we see happening then is the growth in the population of people who fall into the widening healthcare gap. The procedure that I underwent – to remove a cyst on my lower back – was intended to have me in the care of the hospital for no more than two nights. In the end I was taking up a bed in an acute ward for a total of twelve nights. The reason for this long captivity and waste of precious resources was that I live in the gap between the Medical Card and private health insurance. Removing the puss from my large open wound, and speeding up the repair of my flesh, was a wound vacuum which belonged to the hospital and was not – for insurance reasons – allowed to leave the hospital. In order to leave the ward another pump had to be rented by the community health system from a private company at a cost of somewhere in the region of sixty-thousand euros for the duration of my recovery. I would not be leaving hospital.

Rather than the HSE purchase something as simple as this device, it was willing to see much more money squandered and a bed being taken up as it kept me in hospital. Considering that I am not alone in this care gap it can only be concluded that the Irish health system is wilfully haemorrhaging money. In the end – stuck between ethical care and the need to get me out of a bed – the decision was made to remove the wound vacuum from me and change my treatment to the more traditional (‘primitive’) gauze dressing. This tried-and-tested method works, but it will take longer and comes with a slightly increased risk of infection. Do I care? In truth: not really. After twelve nights in hospital with the full use of my body and mind I was pushing as hard as the hospital to get out of there. It is sad that we have to make do with an inferior level of medical treatment and care because of the mess that the Irish political class have brought upon us, but I am young(ish) and healthy(ish). What bothers me the most is that effects like this – right across the board – will have terrible consequences for the poor, the elderly, the sick, and the vulnerable. We are yet to see the true cost of this mess.

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