EDITORIAL – Minister gets it wrong

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leo varadkarHEALTH Minister Leo Varadakar has said that it’s a disgrace that people in the midwest are waiting up to two years for access to the University Hospital Limerick’s only MRI scanner.

His comments came on foot of a query from Deputy Niall Collins, which uncovered the information that 2,000 people have been waiting more than two years for a test at the Dooradoyle hospital.

The Minister is wrong.

Minister Varadaker has the final say in who gets MRI scans and who does not. End of story.

He is relatively new to the office but if the MInister wants people to have scans in some sort of reasonable time then he must give the hospital the resources to deal with the demand. And no – it’s not a simple as buying another scanner.

Of course it involves levels of staffing and administration, not to mention physical space. But how much would it cost, in reality, to not have people waiting two years to know what’s wrong with them?

This week it was revealed that the HSE spent €2,500 on a Christmas tree outside the University Hospital in Dooadoyle.

€2,500 might well have been spent elsewhere but, in terms of healthcare, it would not have bought another MRI scanner or paid the wages of someone to operate it for any length of time.

There are many problems with our healthcare system and some could be solved by better planning, better management, better accountability.

Recent revelations on nursing home practices have highlighted that.

But the real problem with waiting lists and all the other ills of our healthcare system is lack of money.

The reality is if someone is earning and paying for private healthcare and needs an MRI scan, they will have one within days of being referred.

Getting the infrastructure in place to deal with demand in the public system in Dooradoyle is a long-term project.

But if Minister Varadakar is so outraged, let him give the HSE west the money to buy time for scans in private facilities and clear the waiting lists.