Removefiannafail

end corruption,stroke politics, & incompetent administration

Help at the 11th hour.Succour for the poor-from doctors with a social conscience.!

By JEROME REILLY

Sunday May 04 2008

The brother of HSE Chief Executive Professor Brendan Drumm is leading a revolt by more than 40 hospital consultants who have told the executive they won't collaborate with the co-location strategy they believe will create one hospital for the rich and another for the poor.

John Drumm, a Consultant Surgeon at the Mid-Western Region Hospital, was one of a delegation four senior doctors, representing consultants who met with a representatives of the HSE to voice opposition to the current plan.

Mr Drumm was also a co-signatory of a letter to his brother Prof Drumm which stated that the co-location strategy in its current form will create more social division in Limerick, damage the esprit de corps of medical staff and and limit access to specialised medical services for both uninsured and insured patients.

The co-location strategy involves plans to build eight private hospitals on the grounds of public hospitals inDublin (2), Limerick, CorkWaterford and Sligo with another two planned for Letterkenny and Galway.

The Government and the HSE claim it will bring 1,000 additional beds for public patients over five years but the plan has been denounced by Opposition parties, trade unions and health groups, including the Irish Medical Organisation.

John Drumm along with three colleagues -- consultant obstetrician Gerry Burke, consultant surgeon Paul Burkeand consultant urologist Hugh Flood -- were asked by theIrish Medical Board, which represents consultants in Limerick, to negotiate with the HSE in an effort to change the current co-location model.

"We have written to Prof Drumm and had one meeting with Tom Finn of the HSE in which we told him that if this goes ahead we will not collaborate with something which is so divisive socially in and will ultimately harm the public hospital and the services that it provides," Gerry Burke told the Sunday Independent.

He said the fact that Mr Drumm was writing to his own brother to protest against the current plan was not an issue "one way or the other."

"In our meeting with the HSE we were also told that we would have to have an identical case mix between the two hospitals on the site.

"That means that we would have the same levels of illness between both hospitals which doesn't make any sense in terms of cohesion. It would mean that you would have to replicate everything in each hospital including the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and suchlike.

"In our view, you will end up with a wasteful replication of staff and services. For example, there is a worldwide shortage of anaesthetists who are specialised in ICU, and there is a national shortage of trained ICU nurses," Mr Burke said.

The Consultant Obstetrician, who is a member of the Labour Party, said the idea that you could have two intensive care units operating on the one campus is absurd.

In their letter to Prof Drumm, the consultants, including his brother John Drumm, proposed that the new co-located hospital in Limerick be run as a an elective hospitals for selected low-risk cases for both public and private patients while more complex cases, whether public or private, would remain in the existing hospital.

Last week, Mr Burke and four other senior medical staff representing Limerick consultants met the Becaon Medical Group and warned it that if consultants decline to work at the new hospital it is very doubtful that the co-located hospital could succeed if local doctors are not prepared to participate in it.

"They may be able to appoint their own consultants, though where they would get them is another matter," he said.

Mr Burke told the Sunday Independent that he accepted there may be local consultants who would agree to work in the new hospital but he added the view of the majority of consultants is that the current plan is not fair for the community.

"We had a meeting attended by some 40 consultants and no one spoke in favour of the current co-location proposals," he added.

- JEROME REILLY

Jobs for life.Pensions for life.Only Aer Lingus,Farmers ,and Civil Servants need apply.

Cloak and Dagger stuff in the Health Service.

They won,t tell you that you are dying ...and they wont put the cause of your death on the death certificate..! No "freedom of information" here..some things never change in irish politics-even in the mortuaries of irish hospitals.

HEALTH Minister Mary Harney has warned doctors that they have a legal responsibility to inform patients who have contracted the deadly MRSA bug while in hospital.

In a frank letter to the chief of the Health Service Executive, Professor Brendan Drumm, Ms Harney said the widespread failure of hospital doctors to inform patients and their families of their diagnosis and its implications was "not acceptable".

Up to 100 victims and families are preparing to take legal action against the State, blaming lax hospital hygiene for their infection.

The national hygiene audit which showed that 91% of the country's acute hospitals fall below an acceptable level of cleanliness.

The MRSA advocacy group, MRSA and Families highlighted that sufferers and their families weren't being told in a "clear and unambiguous way" they were infected with the bug.

In Britain, MRSA-related deaths are recorded on death certs and this has allowed the British to monitor increases in such deaths.

Ireland has the highest rate of MRSA infection among the 25 EU-member states, with 315 reported cases of MRSA in the first six months of 2005.

A HSE spokesman said that the right of patients to know if they have MRSA or any other condition is expected to be underlined in a reminder to doctors from the HSE shortly.

So Fianna Fail and Mary Hearney are reforming the ruinous 'black hole' of waste , jobbery, and incompetence called the " Health Service" ? 

If reform consists of giving 15,000 (and counting)highly paid health board administrators,etc their wages for life ,plus any new benchmarking bonuses that emerge during the coming decades ;Mary,pray tell the long suffering taxpayers of your little island/banana republic what Exactly is the point in all the waffle and spin about "reform"

Next years bill will now have the cost of "reforms",whatever that may consist of- and all the old wastage added together!

Aer Lingus had unwanted staff walking the corridors at Dublin Airport on full pay for the last 20 years.

 Since 1997 the number of administrators in our health service has doubled to more than 15,000. At the same time the number of acute hospital beds has fallen by 3,000

E.E.C. farm subsidy reforms,just announced, consists in pensions for life for farmers-and the subsidies have still not gone away.!

If reform consists of a repeat of this exercise in our hospital administration offices,God help the suffering people who neglected to cast a vote to remove Fianna Fail from office,during the last general election.

JOBS FOR LIFE -IN A "CAPITALIST" ECONOMY.?

His most recent propaganda exercise was  G.U.B.U. (Grotesque Unprecedented. Bizarre.Unreal.)

An Taoiseach Bert Ahern,s recent Damascus conversion to socialist principles was a shock to the body politic,and not least to the formerly isolated T.D. "Red" Joe Higgins,whose only suit of clothes disappeared into Bertie,s wardrobe quicker than you could say "Joe Stalin"

That Bertie,s diktat was followed by the Tanaiste,to the letter of the law -in guaranteeing jobs for life for all superflous state employees/Health sector workers(Aer Lingus etc. next) is even more authoritarian and pure Marxist dogma. What a remarkable administration,- that can combine communism, capitalism, and cronyism,in one cohesive and credible "collective"!

Thank heaven our non nuclear status disqualifies us from membership of the american "axis of evil" list.!

Each redundant health board administrator ,on an average salary of 50,000 euros plus, annually,will be paid until the day he retires,and then recieve his full pension thereafter.

This will cost the taxpayer 750 million Euros from next years health budget-and counting.!

The coming years will bring new taxation, on a level that you have not even dreamed about.

Be advised. No party can change this terrible reality.Now or after the next election

EVEN DOCTORS COMPLAIN.?

A letter to the Irish Independent (from a doctor crying in the wilderness...)

"Sir - I am writing to express my deep disappointment at the decision of the Minister for Health to capitulate utterly to the demands of the Impact trade union. Your newspaper quite accurately describes this as a "Sick joke for health" (Editorial).

Since 1997 the number of administrators in our health service has doubled to more than 15,000. At the same time the number of acute hospital beds has fallen by 3,000 since 1990! Throughout this State we have witnessed example after example of health board administrative incompetence. Millions of euro of taxpayers' money, which should have been destined for patients, was squandered on shiny new health board offices and other trappings of bureaucracy.

More recently we have learned of the systematic and apparently illegal fraud perpetrated on nursing home residents in this State by these same faceless administrators. As with all examples of health board ineptitude, nobody will ever be held accountable. The response of the Minister is to reward those responsible with a "job for life". A sick joke indeed.

On assuming the office of Minister, Mary Harney promised radical reform. As an active member of the Progressive Democrats, I believed she would deliver. To date, her most notable contribution has been to launch a blistering attack on health care professionals for allegedly poor hand hygiene, which she blames for the rise in hospital-acquired infections.

The fact that the primary cause of this problem is overcrowding is, naturally, ignored. Her administrators have once again escaped responsibility and evaded all accountability. Health care professionals meanwhile are driven to despair by a Minister who is so quick to condemn their work practices, while simultaneously rewarding bungling administrators with a "job for life".

The victims of this failure of health service reform will, as always, be the patients. While some will enjoy the joys of "a job for life" others will continue to lie on hospital trolleys. This decision is simply disgraceful. "
Dr Ruairi Hanley,
Registrar in A&E,
St Colmcille's Hospital,
Loughlinstown,
Co Dublin

A new Ministeress for Health has arrived.A new hero has emerged.BlessedMary (Harney) is in the saddle.Her charger is ready to do battle.Like Joan Of Arc,she has accepted the "Poison Chalice" of the "Soldiers of Destiny" from Michael Martin,and sallies forth to destroy a legendary Dinosaur which is devouring the "Soldiers"tax booty.A wasteful monster which is out of control and devouring billions upon billions of Euros annualy.Can she save them ?Can she save us?

The Lord Bertie prophesized;

":A Serpent shall strike her heel,but she will crush its head!"(and nobody will blame Fianna Fail if she sacks a few useless doctors,administrators,-or closes a few isolated hospitals...)

THE HEALTH SHAMBLES

The Health Service Survey,of Dr Sean Barrett-a Trinity College economist,published in 2004 was a shocking indictment of a Fianna Fail government which will surely be remembered for its unprecedented and systematic network of organized corruption;-its chameleon like mastery of the art of "public relations" and deception;- its astounding bluff and arrogance in the face of exposure;and its utter incompetence in managing the Nations affairs,whether it be infrastructure projects,public health,or just plain old waste disposal!

The Trinity College economist, who was a member of the Brennan Commission on health service reform, was scathing about the lack of systems to develop cost consciousness and lack of incentives to manage costs effectively. "The cost of the health service - at €9 billion - is up 125 per cent over six years, and the numbers employed have jumped by 47 per cent," said Barrett.

"Yet there has only been a 4 per cent increase in in-patient discharges over the same period."

A letter published in the Irish Independent on little Christmas day,2005,pretty much sums it all up.-

Sir - I am writing to express my deep disappointment at the decision of the Minister for Health to capitulate utterly to the demands of the Impact trade union. Your newspaper quite accurately describes this as a "Sick joke for health" (Editorial).

Since 1997 the number of administrators in our health service has doubled to more than 15,000. At the same time the number of acute hospital beds has fallen by 3,000 since 1990! Throughout this State we have witnessed example after example of health board administrative incompetence. Millions of euro of taxpayers' money, which should have been destined for patients, was squandered on shiny new health board offices and other trappings of bureaucracy.

More recently we have learned of the systematic and apparently illegal fraud perpetrated on nursing home residents in this State by these same faceless administrators. As with all examples of health board ineptitude, nobody will ever be held accountable. The response of the Minister is to reward those responsible with a "job for life". A sick joke indeed.

On assuming the office of Minister, Mary Harney promised radical reform. As an active member of the Progressive Democrats, I believed she would deliver. To date, her most notable contribution has been to launch a blistering attack on health care professionals for allegedly poor hand hygiene, which she blames for the rise in hospital-acquired infections.

The fact that the primary cause of this problem is overcrowding is, naturally, ignored. Her administrators have once again escaped responsibility and evaded all accountability. Health care professionals meanwhile are driven to despair by a Minister who is so quick to condemn their work practices, while simultaneously rewarding bungling administrators with a "job for life".

The victims of this failure of health service reform will, as always, be the patients. While some will enjoy the joys of "a job for life" others will continue to lie on hospital trolleys. This decision is simply disgraceful.
Dr Ruairi Hanley,
Registrar in A&E,
St Colmcille's Hospital,Loughlinstown,co Dublin

NEXT::::INCOMPETENCE STRANGER THAN FICTION;

January 2005;

The State's spending watchdog has exposed serious irregularities in the company accounts of Dublin's Beaumont hospital.

Comptroller and Auditor General John Purcelll has informed the Dail's Public Accounts Committee of payments sought for work not done, and the re-tendering for work already completed.

A spokesperson for the hospital has said new procedures are now in place to prevent any such incident reoccurring.

Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee is Michael Noonan.

"It has transpired that in the years 1999 to 2002 work was being assigned to just one contractor."

"Some of the work was not being carried out at all and was being paid for and when they sought to correct this and involve other contractors in the tendering process it subsequently transpired that the tenders were from non-existent contractors."

Can you believe it.? It,s TRUE.

Your bin taxes go in here..-and never come out again.

August 2006, the Independent carried news of such wanton waste as having an odour of corruption - in the Health Service Executive..

THE Health Service Executive has been spending €51,000 a year renting a building in Sligo which has been unoccupied for the past four years, it has been claimed.

A furious Cllr Declan Bree, who uncovered the scandal after an information request to the Health Forum West, has accused the HSE of squandering public funds.

He is demanding a full investigation into how the building could have been left lying vacant for so long.

Mr Bree, a member of the HSE's Health Forum West, had asked the forum to furnish him with details of each property rented by the HSE in Sligo, the purpose for which it was used and the annual rent paid.

It emerged from the reply that almost €1.5m was being paid in rental for an estimated 57 properties, among them, the former Medicentre premises in Kempten Parade, in Sligo city centre.

But on further examination, he discovered that the premises, which the HSE said was being used for the Orthopaedic fitting service and for the Down's Syndrome Association, had been lying vacant for the past four years.

"I visited the premises last week and discovered that contractors were now in the process of fitting it out for use and I also found that a single HSE staff member had moved in three days earlier and was in the process of preparing an office for the Orthopaedic fitting service.

"I have every reason to believe that if I had not asked the question, this building would still be lying empty," he said. "I think it is outrageous that the HSE could squander in excess of €200,000 on a premises that lies vacant. Given the needs and requirements of the health service in this area and given the number of people seeking improved services, there can be no excuse for such a wanton waste of taxpayers money," he said.

It also emerged that the HSE is paying €198,850 in annual rent for the national project offices for the controversial PPAR human resources information system of the Irish health service in Duck Street, Sligo, while, Markievicz House - a building owned by the HSE on Barrack Street - lies vacant a couple of hundred metres away.

"I find it difficult to comprehend why the HSE would spend such a large amount of money renting property.

"In my view, the HSE should be investing wisely and purchasing necessary property. Money spent on rent is a waste of resources and a waste of public funds," said Cllr Bree.

The single biggest sum of money paid on rent by the HSE in Sligo is €316,165 per annum for offices at JFK House, which is located on Kennedy Parade in the town, which is mainly used for community services and health promotion.

A HSE spokesperson said that it would respond to the claims later in the week.

 

 

Politicians differ and the taxpayer pays billions to private profiteers.

The plan by the minister for health, Mary Harney, to start transferring 1,000 private beds in public hospitals into for profit private hospitals is quite clearly socially and economically regressive.

The first obvious question is why taxpayers should be asked to subsidise
private medicine to the tune of 42% of the cost of new hospitals. How can
the state afford to effectively give away tax payers money to private investors while at the same time it cannot provide enough money to take public patients off hospital trolleys?

Mary Harney’s answer is that this new system will be more cost effective
and she has decided to pursue it as a result. She has made her mind up on this, while stating that she has "asked the HSE to assess precisely the tax cost to the exchequer of competing proposals". The reason she has proceeded regardless of the HSE endorsement is probably because the Department of Health (now the HSE) strongly disapproved of tax subsidies for the development of private hospitals at the time of the launch of the National Health Strategy in 2001, and, unless a Pauline conversion has occurred, would be unlikely to support the current measures, given a proper choice.

However, the difference between then and now is that the Fianna Fail minister, Michael Martin had a vision for public sector not private sector solutions to the health needs of the Irish people. The original measure providing for tax breaks to private investors was quickly rushed through in the 2001 finance bill by minister McCreevy at a late stage against the recommendations of the Dept of Health and wasn’t in keeping with the views of the minister for health at the time.

Canada's restrictions on the role of private health insurance for publicly insured physician and hospital services are unique among countries with universal, publicly funded health care systems. Pressure is mounting in Canada, however, to loosen these restrictions and create a parallel system of private finance. Advocates argue that creation of a parallel system of private finance will ensure the sustainability of the public system (by reducing public cost pressures), improve access to the public system (e.g., by reducing wait times), and improve quality in the public system (through competition).

Opponents of parallel private finance argue that it will create "two-tiered" medicine, increase costs, compromise equity and reduce quality and access to publicly financed health care as those with the financial means (and often the strongest voice) exit to private insurance. Australia provides a particularly promising case study for Canada regarding the dynamics of parallel systems of public and private finance. An international study by independent experts has examined Australia's experience with parallel finance for inpatient hospital services to provide insight regarding: (a) the effectiveness of a parallel system of private finance in reducing costs and wait times in the public system; (b) risk selection between the parallel public and private insurance sectors; (c) the financial redistribution associated with the introduction and maintenance of a parallel system of finance; and (d) the dynamics of the broader political economy associated with parallel systems of finance.

Australia's experience provides a number of lessons for Canada, including:

(1) the potential for cost savings through introduction or expansion of a parallel private sector is very limited;

(2)the introduction or expansion of a parallel private finance is unlikely to reduce wait times in the publicly financed system;

(3)there is no simple way to regulate private insurers to pursue public objectives;

(4) it is impossible to create an independent, isolated parallel system of private finance - interactions between the public and private insurance sectors are complex and unavoidable;

(5) quality plays a key role in driving the dynamics between the public and privately financed sectors; and (6) it is essential to articulate clear policy objectives for health care financing and to design public and private roles consistent with these objectives. Our overall conclusion is that the Australian experience provides a cautionary tale regarding the risks, costs and benefits of a parallel private system of health care finance.

More "jobs for the boys".?

June 2006; Top Eircom bosses to earn €16.5m after sale of company to Babcock & Brown,Australian asset strippers.There,s still meat left on Mary O Rourke,s old bones yet it seems. Remember those shares you the small time punter bought from her-and ended up owning a piece of Vodophone trash instead.!

The four already received €29 million from the company by the time it floated in 2004, bringing their total earnings in the last five years to €45.5 million.

The figures include the €2.1 million in annual salaries for last year and €1.36 million in performance bonuses they received in recent weeks.

Chief executive Phil Nolan will receive the biggest pay, netting almost €8 million by the time the sale goes through.

This includes €6.5 million from cashing in shares and share options, about €4.5 million of which is from shares he bought himself in 2004. It also includes his €769,000 salary and a €580,000 bonus

Meanwhile back in the health service-not yet privatized-but heading in the same direction;.

In the eastern and southern regions of the health service, the number of highly-paid managers nearly trebled in size,in 2005 according to official figures from the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The figures reveal that the number of managers earning more than €75,000 a year increased from 330 in January 2005 to 632 in January 2006, bringing the total annual wage bill for senior managers in the health service to €47.4 million.

Fine Gael health spokesman, Dr Liam Twomey, said the health reform programme had led to a massive increase in administrative costs, but with little accountability by highly-paid managers.

‘‘The government promoted the health reform package as being a new way of doing things, that it would be unified and better," he said. ‘‘But what we are actually seeing is a surge in administrative costs.

‘‘The public are entitled to know what we are getting for this increase in highly paid administrators. If people are being paid this sort of money, they must be held accountable to the public for their management of healthcare."

The figures, which were released by the HSE in an answer to a parliamentary question from Fine Gael, show the position according to the old health board areas.

They reveal that in the eastern region, 167 managers were earning more than €75,000 on January 1, 2006, compared to 61 a year earlier.

In the north east, 52 managers earned more than €75,000 in January 2006, compared to 29 in January 2005.

In the southern area, the numbers increased from14 to 35 during the same period; in the south-east, the increase went from 29 to 54, and in the west, the numbers doubled from 30 to 60. In the less populated north-west, the number of managers earning above this amount increased from 28 to 69, while in the mid-west, managers earning more than €75,000 rose from 24 to 51. In the midlands, the numbers rose from 114 to 144.

In an explanatory note attached to the parliamentary question, the acting national director of human resources, Martin McDonald, said the main reason for the increase was the 1.5 per cent salary increase at Grade VIII level, which was paid under the Sustaining Progress pay deal.

This grade includes financial and management accountants, hospital and community care administrators, and senior human resources, IT and corporate services grades.

The note added that the salary maximum increased from €73,912 to €75,021 on December 1, 2005.

Staff costs absorb the biggest share of the state’s annual €12 billion health budget. The annual pay bill for the 100,000 staff comes to €8 billion a year, of which €800 million is due to benchmarking increases.

Health is a particularly labour intensive sector. In some hospitals, staff costs now account for more than 75 per cent of the overall budget.

In recent weeks, several hospitals have announced major financial deficits for the year, and managers have proposed cuts in patient services and deferment of medical and nursing appointments to tackle the deficits.

Dr Brendan Drumm, chief executive of the HSE, is paid an annual salary of €400,000 and was recently awarded a bonus of €32,000, nine months after he took up the position.

His three special advisers are paid between €163,012 and €202,500 for working 135 days a year, and overtime of up to €1,500 a day after that

The Legal Eagles are suffering too.!

 

CONTROVERSIAL solicitor John Devane has threatened to shut down a hospital where he alleges he contracted the MRSA superbug.

The solicitor who is running as an independent candidate in next year's general election in the Limerick East constituency said he will close down St John's Hospital in Limerick city if they do not clean up the wards.

Mr Devane is already representing over 900 prisoners who are suing the State in a 'class action' suit for having to slop out their cells.

Yesterday, he made an official complaint to the Health Service Executive Mid-West area about the "situation at St John's Hospital".

Speaking outside the HSE offices, he said: "I genuinely feel that where there is more than one case and there are hundreds of cases coming out of Limerick hospitals now. I genuinely feel that the only option that is open to me now is to make a complaint and close down St John's Hospital if necessary."

St John's can cater for 93 in-patients and 10 day patients. In the second National Hospital Hygiene Audit announced during the Summer, the hospital scored 92pc making it the fourth cleanest hospital in the country.

Nevertheless, Mr Devane said if action is not taken, he will attempt to have the hospital closed. "People go into hospital to get better; they don't go into hospital to get sick," he added. "I have had constant medication for the last five years. I have been constantly sick. I have to use an oxygen machine to ventilate my lungs," he said.

"But I am more concerned by the fact that I can't pick up my two-year-old child. I can't get close to my 10-year-old child or my wife because I am sick and constantly afraid I will infect them."

Mr Devane said his civil practise has suffered greatly as a result of his illness.

"I have to take a number of tablets every day and I feel that I am worse now at this stage than any drug addict with the amount of legalised prescribed drugs that I have to take. I am fed up being sick and poorly," said Mr Devane.

Its all down to prayer now!!

 

Sunday independent October 28 2007

THE death of Susie Long, the 41-year-old mother of two children who recently lost her battle with bowel cancer, was a rallying call for health activists. The injustice of her untimely death illustrated the undeniable chasm that exists between public and private health care.

Susie Long was a working mother who could not afford private health insurance and remained on a public waiting list for seven months before her bowel cancer was diagnosed. By the time she was eventually diagnosed, it was too late. She was already dying.

Angered by a public health campaign encouraging early diagnosis of bowel cancer, she went public and proved that the caring portrayal of the health service was a sham. Susie died a fortnight ago.

As the crisis in the health service is played out on the political stage, hundreds of families struggle behind the scenes each day to get access to hospital care, fighting undocumented battles to get the best treatment for their loved ones.

Jeanette Byrne, of cam- paign group Patients Together, says few are willing to share their personal stories, reluctant to expose their medical situations and in some cases, fearing a backlash from medical organisations they may have to revisit in the future. Thanks to Susie Long, this is slowly changing, she said.

This weekend, two families tell their stories -- a husband who will never know whether his wife's life could have been saved if a hospital bed had become available, and a mother whose crippled daughter refused to leave hospital for fear of losing her place in the queue for limited rehab places.

IT is almost nine months since Paul O'Beirne lost his wife Jackie to a brain haemorrhage. A healthy mother of five children, the youngest of whom is now 14, she lived with her family in Perrystown, Co Dublin.

At 4pm on December 29, she collapsed outside the bathroom. She called out to her husband but in the seconds it took to reach her, she was unconscious. Paul telephoned for an ambulance, which came quickly. At the accident and emergency unit in St James's Hospital, Jackie was diagnosed as having suffered a serious brain haemorrhage. Still unconscious, she was placed on a life-support machine and admitted to the intensive care unit.

She was on heavy sedation until January 3, when the sedation was discontinued.

Although Jackie regained consciousness, she remained on a life-support machine because she had fluid on the lungs. Her family was delighted at her progress, not least because it meant that the extent of the brain injury might not have been as bad as initially feared.

Ultimately, Jackie's condition was a neurosurgical problem and required surgery to give her the best chance of recovery. For this, she would have to be transferred to Beaumont Hospital. Paul said the doctors worked hard to get Jackie fit for surgery, by getting her off the life-support machine.

Beaumont was on standby. On January 5, Paul met the neurosurgeons, who told him a bed was available for Jackie whenever she was ready for transfer. Three days later, she finally came off the ventilator and was able to breathe on her own. Things were looking up.

"She was able to talk to us, she knew all the children, she knew her sister. Her short-term memory might have been affected but her long-term wasn't. We thought there was a great chance of her recovering. We went from despair into an awful lot of hope that she would get the surgery in Beaumont and would recover," Paul said.

Their hopes were shortlived. There was no bed for her in Beaumont that day. Nor on Tuesday, when she was moved to a high-dependency bed in St James's.

Paul was worried, aware of the risks involved in delaying Jackie's surgery.

Wednesday passed with no sign of a bed. At 10am on Thursday, Paul talked to one of the neurosurgery team at Beaumont. Again, there was no bed in Beaumont for Jackie and they couldn't tell him when one would become available.

An hour later, Jackie lost consciousness. Her brain had suffered further bleeding, which proved too much for her. She died at St James's Hospital, while waiting to be treated by surgical team that could have saved her life.

Paul will never know whether his wife's life could have been saved if she had been transferred to Beaumont Hospital on time. He has been seeking answers ever since.

Last August, the consultant based at Beaumont Hospital who treated Jacqueline, responded to his queries.

"Having checked with our bed managers, I can confirm that the problem for us on the day we expected to admit your wife was that we were unable to clear some of our high- dependency beds because of a shortage of such beds around the city," he wrote.

The response might be truthful but it is cold comfort to Paul O'Beirne.

"There was no bed available. How often has it happened since? And how can you find that out? It's impossible. My issue is what happened to Jackie could have happened to other people since she died," he said.

"People are grieving or in mourning and they might just leave it, and maybe that's why you don't hear about them. If a bed was needed for Bertie Ahern or Mary McAleese, would it be found? The reason we are speaking is to prevent this happening to someone else," Paul said.

THE long wait for beds is still happening, as Claire McCawley discovered to her cost when she collapsed last month. The 27-year-old from Leitrim was born with spina bifida, but her mobility was not affected. Her family were baffled when Clare suddenly crumpled and fell to the floor of her home on September 19.

Claire's mother Theresa recalled this weekend that Clare was brought immediately to Sligo General Hospital and was transferred from there to Beaumont Hospital the following day.

The cause of her collapse turned out to be unrelated to her spina bifida, said Theresa. Claire had a tumour on her spine. Although it was benign, the pressure on her spinal cord left Claire paralysed.

Doctors operated to successfully remove the tumour. But the paralysis remained. "Doctors were hopeful that she would walk again but they said she had to be referred to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire," said Theresa.

Claire was determined to walk again. "She was an inspiration to people in Beaumont. The fact that she was 27 and couldn't walk and yet had this great spirit, she got everyone going," said her mother.

Claire's treatment at Beaumont finished in the first week in October, and the long wait began for her transfer to the National Rehabilitation Hospital. On October 7, she was ready for discharge, but there were no beds at Dun Laoghaire. More days passed and still no bed was available.

After a few days, Claire was told the hospital needed her bed for another patient. But she refused to leave. She thought that once she left Beaumont, her chances of a transfer to Dun Laoghaire diminished. She dug in her heels and refused to go.

Her mother said: "For one week there we thought that every door was closing in our faces, when she couldn't get to Dun Laoghaire. No one had answers. All we knew was that there was rumours about cutbacks. That's why there was no bed. That is what we were being told."

By October 12, Claire could hold out no longer. She was occupying bed space needed for more urgent cases, and despite her mini-protest, she realised that she had to leave. She was transferred by ambulance back to Sligo General Hospital, where she is still waiting for a bed in Dun Laoghaire.

Her mother asked her local Fine Gael TD, John Perry, to intervene. He telephoned the National Rehabilitation Hospital on her behalf. The hospital told him that at best, Claire was looking at a three-month waiting list.

"Both the doctors in Dublin and in Sligo told us that she needs to get to Dun Laoghaire; the longer she waits, the worse things will get. Her muscles are wasting away.

"It's terrible and you don't realise it until you experience it yourself," Theresa said.

"We are waiting to hear. There is pressure being put on them, but what good is pressure when there aren't the beds there? It is as simple as that.

"Claire has shocked us all, she is such a brave girl. Her whole attitude is 'this chair is not in my life for the rest of my life. I want to get walking'. She is determined. The doctors are very hopeful that she will walk again. But she is 27 and she is not getting the treatment she needs," said Theresa.

"This was the first time we had a serious need of the health service.

"I feel sorry for anyone who's sick. To get better now, it's down to prayer."