Ireland might well be playing in the next World Cup in Russia by the time some public patients get their MRI scan at the radiology department at University Hospital Limerick.
We must take the HSE at its word that these referrals to outpatients are routine and that no urgent cases have received a letter from the hospital advising them of an appointment in 2018.
But when it comes to something as fundamental as health, what seems routine to the doctor might seem anything but to the patient. Their GP might tell them ‘There’s nothing to worry about but we might as well send you for a scan to make sure’. And all the while the patient waits for that appointment, the doubt lingers that there might be something terribly wrong with them.
Four years is simply too long for a country that pretends to be part of the rich club. It is a sign, if ever one was needed, that our health service is dysfunctional.
The MRI Centre at Barringtons can surely expect booming business in the coming years if this situation is to persist.
And what of those who simply can’t afford to go private? Do we continue to tell them they have nothing to worry about for four years.
UL Hospitals Group aims to be one of the top three in the country by 2018. Its transformation into a major teaching hospital has made it “an attractive location” for medics, according to the HSE.
Attracting a handful of personnel to the radiology department would be a good start.