Conor Mac Liam, Áine Nic Liam and Fergus Mac Liam – on the resignation of Mary Harney as Minister for Health earlier today.
Today, just over three years and three months since Susie died, we hear that Mary Harney has resigned from her position as Health Minister. We feel utterly betrayed by her broken promises. She is walking out of her job having caused immense suffering for patients dependent on public health care.
On the 31st of January 2007 in the Dáil as Susie and Fergus watched from the public gallery Mary Harney spoke in response to a motion on cancer services initiated by Joe Higgins TD. Having referred to the ‘regrettable’ delay in Susie’s diagnosis, she announced ‘capital funding of €300,000 to build a new modular endoscopy unit at the hospital’ to reduce waiting times. Susie’s delay in diagnosis happened because St. Luke’s hospital in Kilkenny had missed out on an endoscopy unit in the last recession and a long waiting list had developed as they operated out of a spare room with six trolleys.
The hospital authorities were convinced that a new unit would now be built and in May of 2007 they presented Susie with planning briefs for the new unit at ceremony in the hospital. Susie died in October that year, believing that this unit would be built, that others would benefit from it and perhaps lives would be saved. It still hasn’t been built.
This evening, just after hearing the news of Ms. Harney’s resignation, we spoke with the Clinical Director of St. Luke’s and learned that once again the HSE South has not included the endoscopy unit in their capital budget for this year, or the next. Nor is a hospice. Susie had to go to Dublin to die with dignity in a hospice. Still there is no hospice in Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford or Tipperary – the whole South-East of the country. Susie’s friends in the Susie Long Hospice Fund have raised €0.5 million for a hospice in Kilkenny. In two years’ time according to a 2006 HSE report, two hospices are to be completed, one in Waterford and one in Kilkenny. Neither one is started. Still people die behind curtains in over-crowded hospitals.
We are left utterly despondent, angry and almost disbelieving at Ms Harney’s attitude to the plight of public patients, as she takes an early and no doubt, very comfortable, retirement.
Conor, Áine (22), and Fergus (17).
Conor MacLiam will be the Socialist Party/ United Left Alliance candidate in Carlow Kilkenny