Facing up to conditions in Ireland’s A&Es

Sir, – I read with interest the comments of Kate O’Connell TD about the emergency department in Crumlin (“Vomiting babies and head injuries: TD says children’s hospital conditions ‘shocking’,” irishtimes.com, November 28th). I also attended the emergency department on Sunday with my sick child.

Had Ms O’Connell waited to be seen I have no doubt that her child would have received the same competent, compassionate and comprehensive care that mine did, both in the Emergency Department and subsequently on the inpatient ward.

It is clear to anyone who has been cared for in Crumlin this week that the service is stretched far beyond capacity and that the staff are indeed under enormous pressure. The superb care they provide is all the more remarkable in such conditions.

Staff, not buildings, are the greatest asset to our health service.


Ms O’Connell is in a position to encourage recruitment of much-needed frontline healthcare staff. She and her colleagues in Government would do well to bear this in mind when considering future public commentary and prioritisation of spending. Yours, etc,


Dublin 12.

Sir, – With regard to Deputy Kate O’Connell’s recent comments about the conditions in A&E in Crumlin children’s hospital, I wish to make a number of points.

It is entirely valid and indeed a good thing that the deputy, as a mother, was oblivious to the conditions in the hospital (prior to her visit). However, as a public representative it is beyond belief that this is the first time she has become aware of conditions in this (and all) hospitals.

Parents and carers have been making this point for years.

Had Ms O’Connell or any other representative listened to staff and service users at any point this experience would not have been a shock for her.

It is beyond time that Government representatives realised that the picture they are given by the upper levels of management in the Department of Health and the HSE are not reflective of real experiences dealing with the HSE on a daily basis.

As a parent of a “frequent flier” in our children’s hospitals and as part of a community of parents who spend a lot more time there than I do, we are much better placed to inform people of the reality of using these services.

However the media place zero value on carers as people with a voice and with a contribution to make. Awards ceremonies and waxing lyrical about the job being done by carers are worth nothing, and this throws that into sharp relief.

A carer’s voice would never get this coverage or platform. Why not give some of us the chance to comment on these issues in formal settings with media coverage, rather than just trying to get mileage out of the heart string pulling stories that are favoured?

As users of the system we have huge insight and are well placed to comment and, believe it or not, even have a place in helping to improve the system. However, I fear the day where I and my fellow carers are actually given any status by this Government, or this media, is a pipe dream. Carers we are, but people and intellects and citizens we also are.

A TD’s voice should not be the one given weight on a topic where so many others have so much more to contribute. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 12.