Why I agreed to be interviewed by a national newspaper

Photo courtesy of the Irish Star newspaper, taken by Finbar O'Rourke

Photo courtesy of the Irish Star newspaper, taken by Finbar O’Rourke

Yesterday I agreed to be interviewed by Catherine Halloran of the Irish Star newspaper in relation to a piece she was writing about the Irish Government’s apparent u-turn on the promise to provide free GP Care to people with long term illnesses. My name was given to Catherine by Diabetes Ireland (who are superb advocates for diabetics in Ireland) as they had asked if I would be a patient case study/spokesperson. I’d like to provide a little background as to why I agreed to the interview.

The current government made a promise during the general elections over two years ago to implement a GP visit card for people with Long Term Illness (LTI) cards, in December 2011 it was promised (in the budget) to be in place by March 2012, then it was delayed, in December 2012 (in the budget) it was again promised to be in place by end 1st quarter 2013, in January’13 & February’13 it was confirmed that it would be in place before summer and then yesterday, they say they’re scrapping the original phase 1 plan (roll out to LTI card holders) and going to examine the process as a whole again.

Speaking as a diabetic (and I know this impacts on more people that just those with diabetes), they just don’t seem to see that by giving the GP Care they reduce the stress on hospitals currently providing diabetes care and will reduce the stress on the hospitals having to deal with complications caused by badly managed diabetes care.

As far as I know, the HSE’s own guidelines for diabetes care say that a patient should be seen at least 3 times each year, these visits should include blood tests, eye tests and feet checks. From talking to other people with diabetes, some of them are seen at most once a year and in some cases they have 18 months between visits – as they hospital is setting the appointments, some of these people actually thought that being seen once a year is enough and good practice.

I’m sure there are other diabetics in Ireland like me, who have only ever attended their GP to help manage their diabetes. I do so as I have a great relationship with my Doctor and have found he is committed to helping me, we’ve been working together on my diabetes since November 2007.  Regular visits to a GP can are essential, but they are also another drain on a family finances and I’m sure there are people who don’t see their doctor as often as they would like. The GP cards would’ve been an enormous help to people with long term illnesses and without a doubt they would have been a lifeline and lifesaver for people.

The government now saying that there are legal issues which, seems at best, to be a very weak agrument, they supposedly have been working on this for over two years and only realise this now? This is the same government who can find legal routes to introduce legislation to circuvent data protection issues relating to use databases for household tax (among other things) so I find it very difficult to understand why they cannot use the same legal minds to find a solution to make the GP care happen. This leaves me wondering if it was nothing more than smoke & mirrors to get votes.

The government now tell us that it will be in place within the lifetime of the government and so by 2016, I find that hard to believe, as that’s just over 2.5 years away, the same amount of time they’ve already been working on this, so if the couldn’t do it in 2.5 years, how will they do it in another 2.5 years. They’ve also yet to fill 24 diabetic care posts, which were to be in place to assist GPs.

So the plan seems to be to kick it down the road, however by doing so they increase the risk of people developing complications including things like losing limbs, sight and having heart issues.

I feel very let down by the government of my country.

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