From Socialist Voice, March 2010

Workers, unemployed and the poor wait in line

The revelation that 58,000 X-rays had not been viewed and processed in Tallaght Hospital by a consultant radiologist, and that 3,500 referral letters from doctors in the Tallaght area remained unopened, speaks volumes about the state of our two-tier health service. It further exposes the hypocrisy of the Minister for Health, Mary Harney, and the Health Service Executive.
     The death of two public patients as a result of their illness not being diagnosed, because their X-rays had not been examined and a proper and early treatment had not been administered, is symptomatic of how the health service is increasingly being shaped and medical priorities determined by the needs of private medicine.
     All 58,000 unprocessed X-rays and all 3,500 unopened letters belonged to public patients. The interests of private patients and private medical interests take priority. Workers and the poor will continue to stand in line, hoping that some day someone might look at their X-ray, or a consultant might bother to open the referral letter, if they are not too busy looking after private patients.
     As radiologists from all over Dublin are drafted in to examine the 58,000 X-rays, no doubt thousands more remain unchecked, affecting thousands more working people who cannot afford the extortionate private medical insurance.
     It’s time the labour movement blocked the use of public hospitals by private medical corporations. It’s their members who are standing in line.

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