‘People will die because of this’: GP concerned over nurses’ strike after father’s diagnosis

Doctor says she supports nurses and Government is not listening to those on the ground

Nurses and midwifes walk out of Connolly Hospital as they strike in Dublin on January 30th. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Nurses and midwifes walk out of Connolly Hospital as they strike in Dublin on January 30th. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters


A Cork GP has told of how she had to get a private scan for her father after two public scans were cancelled in the last fortnight. He was subsequently diagnosed with lung cancer.

Dr Doireann O’Leary spoke on both the Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk and RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show to explain how she was so concerned about her father that she pushed him to have a scan in a private hospital.

Her father had been treated for pneumonia over Christmas, but after reading his X-ray and consulting with his treating doctor, it was felt that a CT scan was needed.

A scan scheduled for Wednesday of the week before last was cancelled due to the nurses’ strike and rescheduled for Tuesday of this week, but it too was cancelled prompting Dr O’Leary to contact the Affidea Medical Scan Clinic in Cork where her father was seen within 24 hours.

That scan confirmed her fear that it could be lung cancer and he was immediately scheduled for a camera check which will take place at the Mercy Hospital in Cork on Friday.

“He was squeezed onto today’s list, but there’s only so much reshuffling they can do. The service is stretched to capacity.”

Dr O’Leary said she was concerned about the proposed three day nurses’ strike next week. “I’m really concerned. I do believe people will die because of this.”

Nurses are seeking an across-the-board increase to achieve pay parity with other graduate-entry grades in the health service such as physiotherapists. Nurses contend such increases are needed to tackle recruitment and retention problems in the health service. The Government has maintained the nurses’ pay demands would cost €300 million and less to knock- on claims from other public service groups.

“If I didn’t follow up, he would be sitting at home dying from cancer. I absolutely feel people are going to die. I’m so worried and upset for people who are suffering as a result of this, they don’t know where to turn.

“So many people don’t know who to ask or were to turn. It doesn’t hit home until it’s on your doorstep.”

Dr O’Leary said she felt bad for speaking for her father who is still in shock. She said she fully supported nurses and understands their case having worked in Irish hospitals since 2011.

“The nurses are right. The nurse-to-patient ratio is very unsafe at times. What they put up with is extraordinarily stressful.

“The Government just doesn’t seem to be listening to those on the ground. All of our cries for help - from nurses, doctors and patients, are going unheard.”