Grieving family backs march against health cuts


THE FAMILY of a woman who died in the toilet of the AE unit at Dublin's Mater hospital earlier this year after waiting hours for a bed has urged the public to turn out in large numbers for a protest march against health service cuts on Saturday.

The march through Dublin, being organised by an alliance of trade unions and patient groups, is being timed just days ahead of the budget in the hope that the Government will heed pleas to avoid savage cuts in health service spending next year.

Colm Seville, a brother of the late Beverly Seville Doyle (39), a mother of three who died at the Mater hospital in January, said his family was still waiting for answers from the hospital many months after their sister's death. This was despite several phone calls to the hospital.

He said his sister wasn't feeling well but was left on a chair in AE in overcrowded "Third World" conditions.

In the early hours of the morning she went to the toilet unaccompanied and collapsed and died. She was a private patient but it didn't save her, he said.

"We have a two-tier health system here and neither one of them work," he added.

A spokesman for the hospital said yesterday that the Mater was co-operating with the Dublin city coroner's office who will in due course hold an inquest to establish the cause of the woman's death. No date has been fixed for the inquest.

Mr Seville was speaking at a press conference yesterday in advance of Saturday's march, which begins at Parnell Square at 2pm.

Des Bonass of the Unite trade union, which supports the protest, said saving the banks seemed to be more important to the Government than saving the public health service.

Liam Doran, general secretary of the Irish Nurses Organisation, said that even in these difficult financial times the Government has got to learn from the lessons of the past.

"In 1987 we imposed health cutbacks. We took two decades to recover from that. If we impose cuts upon cuts upon the Irish health service our agreed endeavour to deliver a world-class health service will be put back another 15 to 20 years. We cannot afford to make that mistake," he said. "The Government took a correct decision that the economy couldn't afford to have the banks fail. This campaign and all the participants in it would say that the Government can equally take the same decision now in respect of the public health service . . . the health and wellbeing of the nation is as important as that," he added.