Covid-19 and a two-tier system


Sir, – As the country seems to be lurching towards another surge in Covid-19 cases, your article covering the experiences of Dr Adrian McGoldrick was timely (Glen Murphy, “This is a very strange virus. There’s not an organ in the body it saves”, Health, August 23rd).

We all need to be reminded of how dangerous this virus is and particularly the potential to damage health permanently. There is also within the article a revealing comment suggesting that treatment pathways between those who can afford to buy health insurance and those who cannot are different, with obvious serious implications for outcomes between these groups. The fact is that those on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder suffer much more than those at the upper end when it comes to infectious disease. One of the reasons for this disparity is poor access to healthcare services.

In the article, Dr McGoldrick reminds us that this remains a serious problem as we struggle with Covid-19. He tells us he “underwent a number of blood tests and scans before having a cardiac MRI scan” which diagnosed heart damage. And he went on to make a chilling point, “Unfortunately, cardiac MRIs are not readily accessible but I was fortunate to have insurance so I could get one and it showed that I had myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart.”

Are we to understand that those infected with Covid-19 who cannot afford health insurance will be left languishing on a queue for this vital scan while those with insurance will leapfrog to get immediate attention where there are symptoms suggesting heart damage?

The Taoiseach might address this point and issue an immediate reassurance that all patients will have equal access to such MRI machines when symptoms indicate the need. It is a very good opportunity for the Taoiseach to give substance to the mantra, “We are all in this together”. – Yours, etc,