From Socialist Voice, October 2010

“Please note year”: A tale of Mary Harney’s Ireland

A man with a potentially serious condition finally brought himself up to the point of going to the doctor. Assuring the patient that he had nothing to worry about, the GP nevertheless felt that referral to a specialist was necessary.
     “I’ll make the appointment for you,” she said. “In a week or so you’ll receive a letter from the hospital with details of the appointment.”
     “Without pressing you in any way,” he asked, “can you give me some idea of how long it will be? I mean, will it be days, weeks, or months?”
     “Oh, months,” she replied, no doubt from long experience.
     A couple of weeks later the patient received an appointment letter from the Mater Hospital. Naturally, the first thing he did was to look for the date. “Tuesday 8th November.” Well, that’s not too bad, was his first response: it might have been a lot worse. It was now late August.
     Then a peculiar phrase in the letter caught his eye. “Please note year,” it said. What a strange expression!
     He looked again at the date of his appointment. “Tuesday 8th November 2011 (please note year).” His appointment is for November of next year.
     No doubt the harassed staff of our public hospitals have felt it necessary to add this extraordinary phrase after having patients—some of whom may have read their appointment letter without too much attention, some of whom may have difficulty in reading it—arrive in the hospital for their appointment only to be told they are a year early.
     Does anyone still need to be told what’s happening, or is everyone still sleepwalking?
     Mary Harney, the nastiest member in a Government of scoundrels, is systematically abolishing the health service so that the void can be filled with private health corporations—already springing up everywhere—whose sole object is to make money. If this means endangering the health and sometimes even the life of non-wealthy citizens, so be it.
     At the bottom of the patient’s appointment letter is a list of the directors of the hospital. These names are listed under the threadbare marketing slogan “Commitment to excellence.” Where is the “excellence” here?
     What will it take for us to wake up?

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