Third World Healthcare? Yes Please!

Hours waiting to be seen in A&E. Days – sometimes weeks – on trollies in hospital corridors. Up to two years waiting time to see certain consultants. Unopened mail. Unanswered emails.Appointments postponed by months or even cancelled for no apparent reason. Mis-diagnoses. Missed diagnoses. People dying because they can’t afford private healthcare. X-rays not read by a qualified person. Unnecessary procedures performed without even a cursory nod in the general direction of  evidence-based medicine. Necessary procedures unperformed because of lack of properly trained personnel. Dirty hospitals. Stained bed-sheets.

Sounds like some God-forsaken Asian backwater, doesn’t it? But it’s not. It’s here.  Here, in  puffed-up little Ireland where we like to think we’re some sort of sophisticated first-rate, First World nation.  The truth – though few will admit it – is that Ireland  is really a Third World country with her best frock on. During the Celtic Tiger years, she was a third world country with her best frock and some-one else’s borrowed jewels on.

I am always aware of how poor healthcare is in Ireland – not least because I lived outside of Ireland for most of my adult life and I know what superb healthcare looks like. I’m acutely aware of how atrocious Irish healthcare – more specifically the Irish hospital system is – since I received a letter from a children’s hospital this morning.

For years, my daughter has had a physical problem that I simply could not get diagnosed in Ireland. My GP was clueless – but refused to admit he was (he’s not my GP anymore, by the way).  Eventually, I found a consultant I thought could help and rang his secretary. Going private did away with the need for a referral letter and more than halved the waiting time.

Still, nearly €500 later, my daughter did not have a diagnosis. The consultant – who was an eminent professor in his area of specialisation – could do nothing better than hazard a guess.

The following year, we were back in India. I consulted a paediatrician there.  At 11am on a Wednesday morning, she ordered a full-body MRI. My daughter had her scan at 6pm that same evening. The hospital where this took place was spotless. The equipment was brand-spanking new Siemens and the cost was €90. How long would I wait and how much would it cost for a similar procedure in Dublin? I shudder to think.

Anyway, I was unconvinced by this doctor’s diagnosis. So I sought out another doctor. This man was a specialist in the area.  Within 5 minutes – literally – this doctor was able to accurately diagnose my daughter’s condition and he put her on medication. The consultation and six months’ supply of medication cost me less than €20.

My daughter is still on this medication. I took the prescription back to Ireland from India, explained to my new GP what the Indian doctor had said and she was happy enough to accept his diagnosis and write a prescription for the same drug.

Three years later, my daughter is still on the tablets – although the dosage has been more than doubled. She has not, however, seen a consultant in all that time. Last October, my GP suggested it would be prudent to get my child reviewed by a consultant. We were given an appointment for this month. This morning, a letter arrived to let me know that the appointment has been moved from April until August. What kind of nonsense is this?

I will admit that my daughter’s condition is not currently life-threatening, but she does need monitoring. She does need her health to be reviewed by someone competent enough to do so. She needs further tests – as was acknowledged in the letter from the consultant’s office – and she may need different medication or a different dosage of the same medicine. At the very least, I need to speak with someone who is qualified to discuss this area of her health with me.

It seems, however, that I’ll need to go to a Third World country to access that kind of healthcare.

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Hazel Katherine Larkin


2 thoughts on “Third World Healthcare? Yes Please!”

  1. Seriously. The care I got during my pregnancy in India was incomparably better (and easier to get) than the care I received in US (both times ended in miscarriage). Go figure. So will we be seeing you in our neck of the woods this year?


    1. I get a pain in my heart every time I think of India, I miss it so much. I’d love to get back this summer for a few months. Not sure yet how I’d swing it, but leave it with me. 🙂

      With regard to healthcare, the deference people in Ireland show to doctors makes me sick. People need to realise that doctors work for them and treat them they way they would any other service provider – with courtesy and respect, but not as though they are God. In Asia, if you don’t like a doctor, you find another one. It’s that simple. Here, you are grateful if a consultant – any consultant – will deign to see you!


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