Family of Susie Long condemn broken promises and further damage to healthcare system on 5th anniversary of Susie’s death
Marking the fifth anniversary of the passing of Susie Long who came to national prominence when she made contact with the Joe Duffy Show and related the failure of the health care system to diagnose her caner of the colon in time with fatal consequence, Susie’s husband and Socialist Party representative in Carlow/Kilkenny Conor Mac Liam said:
“Today, as I and my now adult children face the 5th anniversary of the death of my wife and their mother Susie Long, we still have difficulty answering her question: “Did I make a difference?” Of course she has touched many people’s lives hugely, but we know she was asking about the issues she had raised regarding the two-tier health system, and the treatment of public patients in Ireland.
“And I have to say that progress has been painfully slow, or gone into reverse:
• Colonoscopy waiting lists have finally started to shrink after reaching record lengths earlier this year, but 4,660 ‘non-urgent’1 people are still waiting longer than one month for this test.
• Building work has yet to start on the Day Unit promised Susie at St. Lukes Hospital, Kilkenny.2
• A national bowel screening programme, proven to save lives, is not yet up and running, having been postponed a number of times.
• The whole of the South-East is still a without a hospice. It appears that the Framework Document for Palliative Care 2009-2013 has been abandoned. It identified 41 national priority actions including the need for a hospice in Kilkenny to be completed by 2013.
• The number of patients waiting to be seen at an outpatient clinic for the first time has almost doubled to 340,000 compared with figures released last April, and more than 113,000 of those are waiting over a year.
“I am also painfully aware that while the Government has planned to wreak destruction in the public health service by cutting its budget by more than €1bn over 4 years, it will, in this anniversary month alone, donate over €1.7bn to a gang of rich speculators known as bond-holders. And while Roisin Shortall identified Fine Gael’s health privatisation agenda, it is clear that the Labour Party have no intention of stopping it. This Government is intent on strengthening the two-tier model, not disposing of it.”
Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins added:
“By reminding ourselves of the tragic and scandalous story of Susie Long and of the lack of progress in cancer services in the South East we can be more clear sighted about what is needed to prevent reoccurrences of delayed diagnosis. Bear in mind that Susie’s tragedy befell her in advance of the economic crisis. Savage cuts to healthcare have since been applied and further cuts are promised.
“Susie’s own socialist outlook in life was no incidental characteristic but borne of a deep seated hatred for inequality. I am sure she would be both appalled at what this government is doing but also determined to actively fight the cuts. I encourage people to honour Susie’s memory by getting active in the struggle against austerity and in particular turn out on 24th November pre-budget demonstration in Dublin as a first step in a vital and sustained active people power opposition to the cuts agenda.”
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