29 February 2024 5:12 pm

The sorry state of Chronic Ilness care in Ireland

An artist's rendering of what chronic fatigue syndrome feels like. Researchers are beginning to understand the biology responsible for the experience.
Jem Yoshioka/Wikimedia Commons/https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en


Chronic Illness is an amazingly broad term, technically any condition that lasts more than a year with continuing treatment is chronic. However there is a specific kind of chronic illness that has gone relatively under the radar to most people. These illnesses are non life threatening but do severely hinder the person’s life and require lifelong treatment, some of the most common examples of these are Postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS), Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). These conditions are mostly non life threatening but that has left them to be somewhat abandoned medically. For years people were told that CFS was not even a real condition and it was just ‘laziness’ (comedians like Ricky Gervias used it for an easy punchline) now this has been rightfully disproven but its effects have been long lasting.

People with these conditions have been completely left behind as stereotypes have left most people and services not recognising them as disabled. For many it’s a struggle to even access proper healthcare. The health service and GP’s are not trained to look out for these and it leaves people being bounced around to specialists and doctors for years before receiving a diagnosis, if they don’t give up first. Many of the symptoms of these can also be those of more serious illnesses which makes the lack of proper diagnosing even more damning. This leaves thousands of people living their lives, sick and not having a clue why all because they “dont look sick”. This major failing in our health system is leaving Irish people suffering and it’s completely unacceptable.

And treatment once someone is diagnosed is very difficult to come by GP’s are often unable to prescribe medications and people must seek specialists. However as most of the time GP’s fail to diagnose people correctly they are already at a specialist by the time they find out. I have also heard multiple stories from people with specialists of their GP’s tampering with or outright canceling their medication prescriptions. Now this makes absolutely no sense and if it is happening these GP’s are not only inconveniencing but failing their patients for no real reason. While those on medical cards are lucky enough to get their medications for reasonable prices, those who are not have to pay typical extortionate prices to just not live in pain.

The Government and HSE have done absolutely nothing for decades to try and help these people. The HSE still operates like these conditions don’t even exist and thus doctors simply do not know to look out for them let alone diagnose. This again leaves people with these chronic illnesses like so many people across the country left with the only option of paying thousands for private care. Long running Government policy of relying on the private sector to allow them to leave the HSE in a state of disrepair is once again leaving working people without basic medical care.

There has not even been a peep by the Department of Health about these issues in their new plans for the HSE. It can only be assumed that as they are currently people with Chronic Illnesses will continue to be at the bottom of the list due to their illness not being considered “urgent enough”. But the people in the HSE and in the Department of Health on fat salaries will never have to live the daily struggle of these people. The people working in the top jobs who slash social welfare payments and try to exclude people with chronic illnesses will never understand. I will never understand but i can try my best to.

At the end of the day this once again becomes a class issue. If you have the money and if you come from a nice family you will be fine, you will be taken care of. However if you are working class you will have to fight tooth and nail to get a diagnosis and keep fighting to even get the most basic care. This suits the people in Government who have investments in private healthcare or jobs lined up for them. They will happily take every cent from working people to line their pockets and they do not care how much pain a person is in. If they do not “need” to care for you publically the ruling class won’t bother.

Thousands of people across Ireland and across the world will continue to suffer from these conditions with no help. For the simple crime of being born too poor they will be abandoned and denied proper medical care. Any society that allows this has failed and the current dirty capitalist system will never be able to care for these people.


Writers note: A special thanks to my friend Tara for bringing my attention to this issue in the Irish health service. She has POTS and has done a great deal to help educate me on it and many other Chronic Illnesses. I would urge everyone to research this themselves to try and be more educated on these things and be more tolerant of people with these conditions. Small changes in how we talk about people and understanding what people have to live with even if you cant see it can make all the difference.

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