The cure for Ireland’s waiting lists? – updated. 


Moybolgue graveyard, Co. Meath, home of an old well reputed to cure warts.

In kitchen drawers, stuffed into biscuit tins or nestled between bills and faded hospital appointment cards across rural Ireland you’ll, in all likelihood, find a ‘list of the cures’.

The traditional is seeing a resurgence (though it never went away) due to a crumbling health service coupled with unbearable waiting times for even the simplest of treatments.

I brought my own eight year old daughter to our G.P at the start of the summer, hoping to resolve a common problem picked up after six weeks of swimming lessons, a verruca. I remember having one myself when I was her age and going to the G.P to have it treated with dry ice, no big deal.

So I was surprised when my G.P refused to treat it, due to my daughter’s age, she preferred instead to send a referral letter to the local hospital. Six weeks later we received a letter from the hospital waiting list department to say we were on the waiting list for the waiting list (it’s the Irish health service, I wish I could say I was surprised, but I wasn’t).

Speaking on the phone to a lady last week in the waiting list department, she told me, lowering her voice, Varadkar’s minions (her words) are watching everything. There was nothing she could do and was not in a position to give out any information other than suggest I go back to the G.P to secure a second letter of referral to strengthen my daughter’s case to be moved onto the actual waiting list for treatment (The actual, ‘real’ waiting list has a six month wait, so I don’t envisage medical treatment for my daughter anytime this year).

Enter the list of the cures.

Growing up in the city, I had never heard of the gift of the cure, only going for the cure on a Sunday morning after a particularly good Saturday night out.

Some years ago we were given a list of cures from a neighbouring farmhouse, specific to our townland. The handwritten pages listed every part of the body with it’s accompanying cure.

I put the list away between the pages of a book on the traditions of rural Ireland and thought nothing of it until last week.

The list makes fascinating reading; a cure may involve visiting a location, like the well at Moybolgue Cemetery pictured above (proof indeed that we did visit the well for my older daughter’s warts on her fingers), or paying a visit to a particular person who has the gift of a specific cure.

There’s a man who lives nearby in an old cottage with the cure for the kidney’s. He’s only request from his patrons for the cure is a box of twenty Major. 

The lady who visited us on Sunday with the cure for the veruca asked for nothing. We’ve to call her again in seven days. Three visits she advised, cures the verruca, but they’re usually gone before that. Needless to say I’m fascinated to see if it works.

I wish I could share the list of cures with you, but I can’t; It would, in all likelihood, be highly illegal.

But I can urge you to vote the minister and his government out in the next general election, it might not cure the waiting lists, but it’d bring some relief.


Within a week the warts and verruca turned black, over three weeks they gradually dissappeared. 

No hospital appointment required 🙂 

HSE- Someone Needs To Shout Stop on this

In today’s Irish Times we learn that the HSE requires more savings to tackle yet another budget deficit.

“Someone needs to shout stop”

Yesterday, while in conversation with a consultant, he said he feared for the future of the Irish health service.
It could be such a good health service, but the way it’s run at the moment will lead to the cream of health care expertise leaving, and that will be a disaster he informed me.
At present, in order to meet current budget constraints, health managers hire in locums rather than fill consultant positions. This is the same HSE logic that is behind not properly hiring nursing staff and using agency nurses to fill the gaps.
It simply doesn’t make sense. The moratorium on hiring staff in the health service has artificially created an opening for private agencies to profit from public funds.
The consultants that remained with our badly run health service are being forced to look at positions abroad with proper pay and conditions.
We are going to lose the creme de la creme of medical expertise if someone doesn’t shout stop.

Time to call in the Civic Reserve

ImageToday, on the front page of the Irish Times, we are informed that the goal posts are being moved again as 40,000 medical cards are being cut and more drugs on the scheme being delisted, this is coupled already with the increase in prescription charges from 50 cent to 1 euro 50 cent per item. This re-writing and re-working of scheme guidelines is becoming common place as this FG/Lab Government becomes more adept at making stealth cuts & department savings below the radar.

Many will be aware of the mess made when student grants came under the control of SUSI at the start of this academic year. Halfway through the year there are still students waiting for grant approval and payment, with some third level institutes compelled to provide food boxes to hungry students. The Government took their PR advice, and who wouldn’t with the price they pay for it, and blamed the students for not sending in all the relevant documents with their initial application. Silly students, how did they ever complete their Leaving Cert if they can’t follow simple instructions on an application form.

However, students told a different story, with many keeping records of their correspondence and phone calls to SUSI including the names of the civil servants they spoke to on each of the occasions they contacted the body. Some students were asked for the same documentation on numerous occasions to be sent in, others were advised on the phone to SUSI to ignore/not ignore letters etc, you get the picture. I know of many more examples where students have done what was asked of them only to find out after months of processing that last years guidelines no longer apply, even for 2nd and 3rd year students.

The bureatic process is designed and supposed to be equitable and unbiased system, operating in a sterile environment free from political influence. The application forms, guidelines and civil servants are all expected to work together to produce the desired outcome respecting citizens rights and entitlements. Which leaves us to surmise that the problem with SUSI lies in this process. Students I have spoken to claim the application form was insufficent, it didn’t clearly state all the documents that would be needed. The guidelines were not based on common sense, and were therefore difficult to apply. One student was asked to prove residency with a letter from their secondary school, only after this was supplied, the student was told this evidence that no, a passport was the only way to prove residency. The student in question had weeks wasted, which turned into months because the student in question had no passport, forced to apply for one to complete the SUSI application.

It is safe to argue that government schemes guidelines have either changed or the method of application has been altered, and all this under the radar (conformation of this can only be made off the record, of course, so it is just one theory). SUSI is not the only scheme to cause problems for applicants, many schemes in the past two/three years have become very frustrating for applicants, with delays over a year in the case of invalidity pensions and subsequent appeals.

So what can the electorate do to register its dissatisfaction? Write a letter? Ring Joe? No, not if a clear signal is to be sent to the Government. Social media is a useful tool for registering annoyance or highlighting broken promises, but it exhausts our civic reserves.

Civic reserves usually fill as government policy hurts and discriminates;

some scholars argue that citizens, by exhausting their civic reserves, will not have any resources for mobilizing when really critical issues emerge” (Qvortrup, 2011)

So we have looked at some current examples of unfair and unjust cuts which are happening just under the radar in government schemes and hardship and frustration created through differing methods of application and misapplication of department guidelines. It is happening so the variable in this equation is you, what are you going to do about it?