Tallaght Hospital — No X-Rays, No Letters, Please

How does a hospital miss 58,000 x-rays and 30,000 letters?

Nobody reads X-rays in Tallaght hospital, and nobody opens GPs’ letters either.

What’s that all about?

I can just about understand how the 58,000 X-rays weren’t checked because there are too few consultant radiologists in the hospital.  If you haven’t got enough people, you can’t do the work.

But how did 30,000 GP referral letters get thrown in a drawer, unopened?


Is there something about the envelopes GPs use?  Is there a big stamp on the front that says Urgent Letter For Sick Patient from Family Doctor.  Please Ignore?

Did somebody go through the mail every day saying, Bill, yep, ok! Invoice, ok! Cheque for fees, ok!  GP’s referral — ooops, bin!

They didn’t even open them.  How was that done?

Were they using all the X-ray people to see through the envelopes?


Sara Burke

62 thoughts on “Tallaght Hospital — No X-Rays, No Letters, Please

  1. And the HSE are refusing to enlighten us as to whether the unread X Rays were for public or private patients. I wonder why!!

  2. Please say it was filmed in the 70,s and John Clees was the one throwing the referrals in the bin,

  3. Except they put them in a pile, not in the bin, it seems, Charles?
    How come the GPs didn’t go looking for the results?
    Patients have to go through the GP to get the results.
    Time to do away with that?

    Mary Harney is a woman of great ability, but she has made a total wreck of health.
    It was bad when she took over, but now it’s in ruins.
    She needs to go.

  4. This weeks HSE scandal, there`ll be another one next week.

    Its just the way things are in the HSE…… Last weeks scandal was Tracy Fay. Nobody is accountable or to blame it seems. Not the first example of the incompetence that seems to be the watchword of the HSE,

    This no fault no blame culture starts with Harney and goes the whole way through the HSE. Sadly the Lazy bastard culture leaves in its wake a trail of innocent victims, often deceased.

    Harney and her lackies in HSE don`t have the common decency to resign, they will continue to cheat and decieve the Irish people until they have bled us all dry.

  5. According to Evening Herald tonight, M.Harney has refused to return early from her present junket in NZ where she is accompanied by her Husband and three Aides.
    She is doing a great job of exhibiting her total disdain for this Country, but thats hardly a surprise.
    The buck stops with her but guaranteed she will stand up and justify.
    Our health system is a frightening disgrace, I could write for a week detailing horror stories but it’s too upsetting.
    Its a fact that people we know, people we love will die before their time from the ineptitude of the people responsible for running this ” system ”
    Many public sector workers have their strikes planned due to pay cuts, What will the rest of us do ?
    As an aside, sort of, did anyone hear Nell Mc Caffertys interview with Tom Dunne on Newstalk today ? Cant say any more about that !

  6. I think I heard that she’s off to the USA for 2 or is it 3 weeks for St. Patrick’s day also, isn’t St Patrick’s day one day.. Great work if you can get it huh.
    Apparently a previous trip of hers to the US cost the taxpayer 190,000 Euro.
    That’d buy a regular person a house, but just another working, ‘fact finding’ trip for one of our ministers.

  7. Sorry got that wrong, she wont return from New Zealand until March 21st (she’s been there since March 6th).. 15 day trip for St Patricks Day along with hubby and some other cronies, paid for by you and me.

  8. The whole country is a basket case with ministers touring the world while the country goes down the toilet.
    But what ever the do the sheep will vote them in again.
    I dont understand people in Ireland the people of Iceland had enough and kicked their useless government out and refused to pick up the tab for their crooked deals.

  9. Minister Harney is beyond sanction, her Political Party is non existent, she does not intend to run in the next election, Ministerial pension sorted, T.D.’s pension sorted, 2 weeks in N.Z., everything is hunkey dory in her world, our world?….., well we don’t matter, some suitable yarn will be trotted out on her return.

  10. Much though I detest this government, as far as I’m aware Mary Harney doesn’t sort the mail in Tallaght Hospital.

  11. Yes and no.

    It’s a minister’s role to set policy and to make strategic decisions, right or wrong. It’s no part of a minister’s job to teach administrators how to behave like normal mature adults. That’s a given.

    In a developed society, it should not take ministerial intervention for staff to open and answer letters. Something is profoundly wrong with this story though I don’t quite know what, yet.

    But even Harney’s worst critic would hardly blame her for the staggering incompetence of a hospital administration that fails to carry out such a basic function.

  12. I would take a guess that they weren’t dealt with due to lack of resources.. or else they’re just lazy bastards, I don’t know. But I do know hospital administrators that work very hard.. in saying that, they are not in Dublin/Tallaght hospital though.
    Meantime.. it would boil your blood a little that Mary is off sunning herself with her husband on our buck- may have nothing to do with the post, but there you go… In the general vicinity of the topic..

  13. Have to disagree Bock.

    FME 16 Billion a year…. lack of resources , come off it.

    The minister oversees the top HSE appointments, furthermore she signs off on the HSE budgets. If those appointed to run the HSE and the hospitals fail to do so, the minister has ultimate responsibility. This minister seems to at every possible opportunity abdicate her responsibility.

    If senior management in the HSE fail to do the jobs for which they are handsomely paid, its up to her to replace them. As long as HSE staff feel they can work without control or sanction the weekly scandals will continue to emerge.

    As the minister has failed to act to control the waste and mismanagement in the HSE and the hospitals she must take responsibility and resign .

  14. Listen, you won’t find me defending this governent. I’m simply saying that no minister in any governent micromanages the daily work of civil servants, and in any case the HSE is not part of the department of health.

    What I’d like to know is who’s will be able to take our health system by the scruff of the neck and sort it out. There seems to be a deep-rooted problem there.

  15. It may not make complete sense but both Bock @ comment 14 and Mel Drew @ comment 16 are both entirely correct.
    When you say Bock, ” normal mature adults ” It is on the assumption that the people being paid and delegated specific responsibility for designated tasks perform said tasks with an awareness, responsible and specific attitude and skill designed to follow through on their specific area, This unfortunately does not happen.
    It was the board of Tallaght Hospital who commissioned the report from Pricewaterhouse Cooper , that revealed this most recent disaster, PWC recommended in their report a much smaller Management team, Now that to me indicates,
    1. Too high an expenditure at exec level.
    2 Too many people processing the same information, So that the circle of ” lost in translation ” is permanently in play.
    How can it be strategic or effective that a Referral letter from a GP has to travel through 20 stages for an appointment to be issued ? They apparantly now have cut those stages to 3, In my opinion that is still too much, it shpuld be 1 stage only.
    There are basic structures to any Executive or Business and the CAO or Leader of group/business etc has to have defined the mantra of ” NOT ON MY WATCH ” (Apologies for cyber shouting )
    As I have posted on this site in the past, My personal awareness of the plight of patients suffering from the ineptitude of delegation was brought home sharply and traumatically to us as a family last year when we came within a 2 hr window to save the life of my 4 mth old Grandaughter, Because information and a file was not passed on to the relevant Senior Consultant.
    The processing of information is the cornerstone of any business, How can the Doctors and Nurses deliver treatment and investigation without delivery of vital information and direction ? It appears that nobody is ever held responsible for non delivery of vital information, Many heads should roll for this debacle.
    The present disaster in regard to X Rays may be attributed to Tallaght Hospital but the underlying causes are most decidely in operation in every single Hospital in this Country.
    Mary Harneys resignation will not solve this crisis in time to save or change lives but it is most definitly a start.

  16. Don`t know Bock, maybe a blind man on a flying horse or a ten year old.

    I think you are in danger of buying into all the spin crap foisted on us daily by Harneys minnions. HSE / Dept of Healtre both Harneys babies. Remember Bock Mary Harney she speak with forked tongue.

  17. I’m not buying into anything. I don’t believe it’s the role of any minister, of any political persuasion, to micromanage their departent.

  18. Bock; Whereas the mismanagement is down to Micromanagement and that is correct, Who then ultimately carries the can for the outcome ?
    Is it the individual Managers/Heads of each dept ?
    Is it the Executive who put’s in place ” best practise ” measures ?
    Is it the team of non medical secretarial staff responsible ?
    What crazy person tolerated a system, or even put in place a system whereby it took 20 stages of execution to reach an appointment for a patient ?
    Is it whoever headed up each stage of the 20 stages ? Who was responsible ?
    It has to be investigated from Micromanagement up to the level of Minister Management.

  19. Bock as Minister for Health ,Harney is tasked by the taoiseach to take overall responsibility for the Health Services provided by the state. She then delegates to senior mangers in the relevant publicly funded Heath bodies. She has a legion of administrators to report back to her as to whether or not the ministerial directives are complied with. One can assume that either the funded bodies are not following said directives or her administrators are not fulfilling their functions in reporting these failings to her or the minister is receiving the information and is ignoring it or deliberately misleading the public. Somebody must be accountable. In the absence of any efforts by the minister to expose those responsible for the weekly litany of incompetence in the HSE / Dept of health , one can only assume that she is incapable of fulfilling her ministerial brief and should therefore resign.

  20. Getting rid of Harney won’t fix the problem.

    Kicking out the Middle and Upper Management space-wasters and then playing hardball with the Unions, will. (and by this I don’t meant paycuts for the lower echelons)

    Both of those groups are the real problem. No matter if Harney takes along walk, whoever inherits the job will have the same problems as she does.

    As norma has pointed out before, the HSE is a horrifically bloated entity with so many layers and completely redundant entities that it beggars belief, and leads to this kind of crap that we’re talking about here. I mean, let’s look abroad to any country in Eastern Europe (for example).
    They are very poor compared to us, yet if you get sick you can (in most cases) walk into a hospital and see a consultant for your problem in less than 24 hours. And it costs next to nothing. I’m sure it’s the same in many parts of the world — just next door, the NHS annual budget is around EUR 100 Billion = just over 6.5 times our HSE’s , yet they service a population that’s over 15 times our size!

    Now if the UK, Romania and Bulgaria, Croatia et al can provide a level of service like this with very limited funds to back it up, why can’t we?
    I reckon it’s because we’ve let Unions become too entrenched in the HSE, to the point where you have processes in the HSE that require 6 or 7 people to be involved, whereby they only actually perform the work of one person.
    And the HSE CANNOT just get rid of these people, without a huge fight with the Unions, because the HSE management is either too scared or, more likely, too well-paid, to want to rock the boat.

    That’s the root cause of this problem, Harney is only a symptom. Albeit a very large, very annoying one.

  21. Is this not the fault of the Tallagh Hospital management? Somebody some where knows who put the letters in the drawer. The HSE cannot be held responsible for every breach of procedure, assumong that there was one in place day one. As much as you can’t expect Harney to know of every letter to every hospital, the same goes for Drumm. But what of the GM of Tallagh? The HSE in this country is governed by snobbery, out dated practices and downright incompetence.

    A hospital in thecountry was short an Operations Manager, however due to a recruitment freeze, the HSE couldn’t appoint a candidate. There was uproar in the hospital “this is a vital role” etc, etc. A guy I know secured the job through a third party. On his first day of work he was sent home because staff at certain levels were told by unions not to co-operatewith the incombant of sais position. Two of the HSEs major problems, unions and self serving incompetence.

  22. Fair enough, except that this Minister created our bloated HSE, appointed Mr. Drumm at great expense to us and look at the state of our health service!
    I don’t blame her for not opening the letters, but her ideas have caused havoc all over the show, and it’s for that reason that I think she needs to go..

  23. Where the Fuck is Professor Drum when all this shit is happening. I presume he is arranging his huge retirement payoff. After all who gives a fuck about x rays or unopened referral letters its only Public Patients who take the hit

  24. i attend tallaght and had a return app in jan which was put back to may this year with ortho no reason given now i know iv had many x rays over the past few years . and when in with the consultant he would just look at the xrays on a screen they may have been old ones for all i know they never let us see them and they say just do this that and the other i am certain that if my xrays have been messed up and im in worse condition than iv been told tallaght and the minister better have a very thick wallet as im sueing

  25. Máiréad, I have no intention of defending Harney of her cabal. However as bad and as wrong as she mey be I believe she and Drumm have fought to drag our health service into the 21st century. Self serving unions, consultants and incompetent management and government must take the blame. Over staffing of admin staff is hugh as is the absenteeism of nursesa nd porters. They are all riding the system.

  26. i doubt mary will be removed form her position in any reshuffle. has anyone heard any of the failures looking for that slot? nobody wants it.
    the HSE is a shambles.this goes back to time when the 11 health boards were joined together. nobody lost a job. how is that possible? if 2 companies merge there is nearly always job cuts. now to my way of thinking thats 10 former managers with no jobs and 10 assistant managers with no job, add in the personal secretaries and all the other people at the top who have no job, and it very easy to see why there is so much waste of funds in the HSE. at present the ratio of nurses to managers/supervisors is 1 to 6. that means for every nurse we have 6 people doing fuck all, there not treating anybody and can’t even open the mail. we have surgeons on €250,000 a year, who because funds are not available to purchase neccessary implants can only work for around 6 months of the year. why not sack a few managers and buy the parts?
    calling for mary to come back is pointless, childish and a waste of money.

  27. First Act

    Scene: Mail Room in Tallaght Hospital, Centre of Excellence!

    Intern, standing beside a large desk, unopened sacks of letters on the floor nearby, an envelope in her hand.

    Enter Hospital Consultant.
    Hospital Consultant: And what are you doing? Don’t you dare open that letter.

    Intern: But Dr. people might die if these letters are not read.

    Hospital Consultant: Well thats not my fault!

  28. There is no excuse for not opening mail and some one had to be responsible for this, I know if this was a person in the private sector they would not have their job for very long, as stated in the post how did they know in Tallaght what was a referral letter etc? I know in my last job as supervisor of a department any mail received was my responsibilty and had to be opened on a daily basis and reported on at the end of the week ,if there was payments they had to be applied to accounts and any complaints queries etc answered in a timely fashion and if not it had to be reported on an admin report as to how many were outstanding (left unanswered not left unopened) on a week to week basis. But there seems to be a big difference in working in private sector to public sector, don’t get me wrong I know there are some great people working in public sector but there is obviously some people who should just be shown the door!!! I am sure there are alot of hardworking, capable people currently unemployed would take the position’s in the morning.

  29. Re the letters not being opened. Isn’t it possible that most of these will be referrals and this will mean that if they are opened then the waiting lists will get bigger. But if they’re not opened the waiting lists don’t get bigger.

    Simple solution to keep the waiting list down – don’t open the letters.

    Welcome to the world of Kafka – alive and well in the HSE.

  30. There’s something more fundamental at work, and it goes well beyond the HSE. It has to do with the way this country runs its business, both public and private.

  31. @ Mairead

    Have you any clue whatsoever about how this country works? My mother used to be on the board of the Mid Western Health Board with a few other quango type appointees, before they sat down to do any business the servants were summoned, the white table cloths came out, the silver ware came out (antique silverware) and of course the wine came out. These people are now working very hard for us indeed inside the HSE and if you believe that you will believe anything. People I knew are dead, you understand, DEAD? Why? Because of Harney and her PD buddies and their two tier system!

    They are all “riding the system”. Yes, and that would be the system presided over by Harney? She should have met these people you refer to head but they are her friends. Of course they will threaten to withdraw their services. Let them show themselves up for what they are. A self-serving elite, who would rather you. your mother, sister. brother, or granny died rather than have their power reduced. Power is money, power is privilege, power is the ability to stop any system being changed. After a few people have died, it will take that, let’s hope it is nobody on this site, and I hope I am not one of them but could be, the lynch mobs will be out and we can replace them for a third of the money and a system that works in the interest of the sick. Refuse to face them down and scores of people will die anyway as they have. Anyone remember Suzy Long? Two scandals last week

    Lets have jobs for these medical students we are training each at great expense, only for the medical unions, quango’s and elite’s to refuse them work in our hospitals. The “Top Dogs” are ready to savage anyone coming near their patch!

  32. Robert — Mairéad is a well-established contributor to this site, who has exposed a great deal of hypocrisy and corruption in our institutions. However angry you might feel towards the structures of the country, you have no basis for suggesting that Mairéad doesn’t know what’s going on.

  33. Robert? I don’t understand your comment as directed to me?
    Did you think that I was praising Ms. Harney?
    I wasn’t.
    Your mother and her quango friends were not good, I agree with you, but this bloated HSE is worse.
    I have been alive a while now and I have seen both systems at work first hand.
    This one is worse by a mile.
    Two people close to me did die at the hands of the red-tape-crazy system Harney gave us, actually.
    Two completely avoidable deaths.

  34. I can’t understand why Robert focused on Mairead,
    A lot of great contributers here but Mairead always truly exceptional in balance, equanimity, information and the courage to always shed real light.

  35. Sometimes, people just lash out and in a way you can understand it when you consider the gobshites who run the country.

    Of course, it could always be the drink.

  36. @ Mairead
    Apologies, you are not the one to blame, I must control the urge to shoot the messenger especially when they are probably on my own side. It’s called friendly fire or blue on blue in Iraq. No offence intended.

  37. @Robert, fair play for standing up and apologising, just remember, “Friendly fire, isn’t” as my old drill instructor would say.

    I agree with Bock that this whole thing seems to be just a symptom of how the country is being run, but I suppose this begs the question, what can we do about it? Is there any way that we as a nation can start to erode the power that “they” have?

  38. No offence taken, Robert, I just wondered what I had said??
    Apology accepted. We should be fighting “them”, not each other.
    We are all very angry in Ireland these days, and the feeling of having no power makes us lash out.
    I am as mad as flaming hell myself, and if I didn’t keep myself determinedly calm, then I would just go beserk. Maybe we need a bit of flaming madness a la Geldof way back when?

  39. I work in the HSE and I don’t understand what happened in Tallaght. Neither do my colleagues.

    It isn’t the Unions’ fault, they’re a convenient scapegoat for things these days. And I’m not a member of any of them.

    I might have an idea what may have occurred, the fact that they hired PWC gave away a clue.

    I’m a clerical officer of just over one years’ experience. Any questions, ask away. I might even reply!!!

  40. Well yobbah, please enlighten us.
    But I have to say that as a patient of the diabetes clinic in Tallaght Hospital, I am very impressed, having been a patient of St. Vincents. They obviously opened the letter from my gp. I am wondering did he send a letter or an email. I will ask him.

  41. Probably a letter, peter.
    My mother is a diabetic too and has never had any problems.

    My point, peter, is probably that I open on average 2,500 letters per annum. I do not understand how 30,000 letters were not opened. I can only speculate that someone DID say something regarding the issue, but were told to hush about it and know their place. Someone probably mentioned it to the higher ups and again informed of their place in the general scheme of things. They were probably had their increments threatened (increments in the public sector are not automatic but are subject to review, a fact that surprised me. I had assumed otherwise when I read the papers.) The reason why hiring the PWC made me feel iffy, is that high management only hire such people to create an image of them “doing” something and showing they are “driving efficiency measures.” It seems this embarrassment came back to haunt them. I have no doubt that they knew about it but chose to ignore it until they wasted taxpayers money to hire a consultancy firm to tell them what they already knew.

    I recall asking a colleague of mine, a low grade clerical officer like myself how she would improve our department. She told me. A week later I printed off an email containing a document from a consultancy firm for my manager. The report was on how to improve the service. The conclusions matched that of what my colleague had told me a week earlier. My manager was annoyed. He and other professionals like him across the country had repeatedly informed the high command on how to improve the service only to be rebuffed. It took the commissioning of a consultancy report to propel the high management into any action as it had made them look foolish if not discredited their abilities. My colleague could have offered her advice for free: but they would have ignored her in any case.

  42. “It isn’t the Unions’ fault, they’re a convenient scapegoat for things these days” – Yobbah, I’m afraid that’s simply not true. They’re not 100% of the problem, but they are playing their part.

    The Unions were formed to protect their member’s rights as employees. So for example when you had those greenisle employees who were unfairly dismissed recently, the union did their job and got it sorted out.
    But over the last 10 or 15 years, that mandate has slowly and inexorably changed as their members have started to ascribe to themselves certain “rights” which don’t exist – namely, the “right” to have as much money as their un-unionised private sector counterparts. The “right” to go on strike and bring the country to a standstill because they want to “keep up with the Joneses” as it were.

    Now, far be it from me to begrudge anyone who does an honest job from wanting to defend their income, but at a time when the country is in financial ruin, the unions are fighting their damndest (is that even a word?) to make sure that whoever pays for the fix, it won’t be their members.

    But everyone has to pay. If that means only one car instead of two, or having a “staycation” instead of Teneriffe for a couple of years, so what? So I can’t go out every weekend, or go to a restaturant on Wednesday night. I have to cook for myself instead of a Chinese on a Thursday. Cancel my Sky Movies subscription. Big deal. You can’t starve to death in this country, even if you’re on the dole.

    So we now have a situation where the likes of the HSE cannot afford to hire the people it needs to deal with the actual important work, like for example, x-rays that might help them to save someone’s life, because the money that would be used to pay for their services is being consumed by administrative staff whose positions are a) not necessary and b) impossible to terminate because they are backed by the unions
    (Not that I’m saying that admin work in general is unnecessary and I am not in any way trying to denigrate your position!)
    But we do know for a fact that the HSE’s services are over-loaded with staff working in a system that has been engineered to employ far more people than are actually necessary. What No. 8 mentioned about the guy being sent home because the unions refused to work with him – that’s typical.If that guy was a union member though, and the position had been engineered for him, they would have fought tooth and nail to keep him there, even if all he did all day was make tea.

    Now the other half of the problem is precisely as you pointed out, a bloated and useless management layer that can’t see the wood for the trees.
    Don’t know if your managers are officially unionised, but even if they are not you can be sure that they have the same kind of protective mentality – to protect their own, the the detriment of everyone else. And that is why they will turn down your suggestions in favour of (the same!) ones from a supposed “expert” because then they can claim to conform to “best practices” – in fact you can probably count on it that your suggestions were shown to the consultants- which means that they can stick their name on the resultant “win” and take credit for it, without having to worry about you.

  43. Steve — I think the problem is that we confuse management with administration. In the HSE and throughout the public sector, people who in years past thought of themselves as administrators now think of themselves as managers, but unfortunately lack the skills to carry out that role.

  44. Absolutely Correct Bock.
    Even though Mary Harney has a Colostomy Bag for a brain her “managers” are basically elevated administrators with skills of goat herders. However stupid and incompetent she is, she cant possibly be held responsible for the unopened letters, thats ridiculous, It`s like saying the CEO of Tesco should be held responsible for unopened invoices in Ballynowhere. But! Her goat herders should be, and if you lose a goat you get shot. Simple. Shoot the goat herders and get new ones. Not in EireNarnia, they get increases or extra leave or some nice pretty beads, to say how glad we all are to have these incompetent fucks running one of the most important parts of the Sate. However, now the issue has been raised she should hire a gunman and go in and shoot these useless ratfucks or put them on the dole where they belong. Hold on! Where is “Jabba the Hut” Oooooooh, she is having a little trippy to NZ, courtesy of the Irish taxpayer, when she should be back in EireNarnia kickin arse in her fucked up useless third world HSE shithole…

  45. Steve – I’ll get to you shortly.

    First of all regarding Tallaght Hospital, my suspicions were confirmed


    “But we do know for a fact that the HSE’s services are over-loaded with staff working in a system that has been engineered to employ far more people than are actually necessary.”
    Unfortunately Steve, this is not a fact. It is the opposite and will have dire consequences in the future. I am covering, like most of my colleagues in administration, two jobs, some are covering three, and I work, like everyone else there 40 – 45 hours a week. I get paid (much less now) for 35 hours a week. We don’t get paid overtime. (In my private sector job, i would have taken home time and a half per extra hour worked.) We get time off in lieu, which is pretty rediculous as we never get to take it off. It’s difficult enough, I’ve discovered, to take Annual Leave never mind time off in lieu. Thanks to the Recruitment moratorium, the ever increasing workload due to increased public demand things will be coming to a head. And a life will be lost. I would love to know where these supposed extra staff are, we could do with the help.

    “Don’t know if your managers are officially unionised, but even if they are not you can be sure that they have the same kind of protective mentality – to protect their own, the the detriment of everyone else. And that is why they will turn down your suggestions in favour of (the same!) ones from a supposed “expert” because then they can claim to conform to “best practices” – in fact you can probably count on it that your suggestions were shown to the consultants- which means that they can stick their name on the resultant “win” and take credit for it, without having to worry about you.”
    I’m not saying there’s much wrong with this, but I’ll make a few points. Not all of my managers are in a union. Some are and some aren’t. I find that the non-unionised ones to be less competent than unionised managers with the exception of one, so I don’t reckon union membership by managers to be a reflection on their abilities and competencies. Indeed, a “protective mentality” can be found in managers in any company or organisation, public or private, and they are very difficult to get rid of. I’ve encountered them myself in the private sector and I’m sure everyone has come across them in some shape or form. You just need to watch The Office…You are correct in everything else in that paragraph. Which is why it irks those of us who do the actual, “real world” work when journalists claim that reform is led from the “top down” giving the high management credit for any initiative. Sorry about the language, but that’s bullshit. The leading cause of a lack of “reform” is not the grunts at the bottom but the good folk at the top, who won’t get out of bed in the morning unless they get €200,000 pa and a 25% “performance bonus”. Please recall that they are trying to make HSE run along private sector lines. A good thing you may think. Not so. The number one priority of the high management, as far as I can make out, is to save money. If this involves not replacing several public health nurses when they retire/on maternity leave, so be it. Then hey, that’s several tens of thousands of grand saved. Top marks. Who gives a damn about the resultant lack of care offered to homes who cannot travel in to the health centre? Sure someone will pick up that slack, adding to an already overloaded workload. Performance related bonuses have been achieved. Job’s a good’n. (The public health nurse carrying that extra workload receives no bonus.)

    “The “right” to go on strike and bring the country to a standstill because they want to “keep up with the Joneses” as it were.”
    Striking is a right, as far as I can recall, a right fought hard for. I don’t know about the Joneses part, but I only want to be paid, not villified as a criminal in the eyes of the country by the media for the past year. Regarding bringing “the country to a standstill”, I believe the power of reason is used with the Government first, but you know yourself how averse they are to such things….

    “Now, far be it from me to begrudge anyone who does an honest job from wanting to defend their income, but at a time when the country is in financial ruin, the unions are fighting their damndest (is that even a word?) to make sure that whoever pays for the fix, it won’t be their members.

    But everyone has to pay. If that means only one car instead of two, or having a “staycation” instead of Teneriffe for a couple of years, so what? So I can’t go out every weekend, or go to a restaturant on Wednesday night. I have to cook for myself instead of a Chinese on a Thursday. Cancel my Sky Movies subscription. Big deal.”
    This is where our opinions seriously diverge. “the country is in financial ruin” and “but everyone has to pay” irk me greatly because I read/hear it so often. First “the country is in financial ruin”. They cut Social Welfare and 30 community development groups with all the social consequences that will entail. The combined saving of this was probably in the region of €1Billion. Tax breaks to the rich, €7.5Billion. This is three times the EU average. The latter remained untouched in the last budget. Tax breaks to landlords €800million, which was the the same as the “savings” made in Social Welfare. Second “but everyone has to pay”. Says who? Why should you pay? What did you do wrong? Are you Seanie Fitz? Pay cuts are a disaster and you provided the evidence for it yourself. First of all it means less income tax, resulting in a larger deficit and a decrease in ability to pay it. Second (apart from the staycation) it is a “big deal”. Look at what you have written. That’s pub, restaraunt and television channel provider, three companies losing out on your cut in pay. Those three companies employ staff. Replicate your paycut across the country. Let’s say everyone stops going out, going to the restaraunt, obtaining television subscriptions. There wouldn’t be many pubs, restaraunts around and Sky would probably pull out, thus shedding thousands of jobs, adding to the dole queues, increased tax bill and the rest of it. Skilled barstaff, chefs and call centre people would leave the country, leaving a relatively unskilled workforce. Not an inducement to investment I would imagine.

    “You can’t starve to death in this country, even if you’re on the dole.”
    Wanna bet?

    Sorry for the very long post Steve, but some of your opinions are widespread and unquestioned by the media which irritates me greatly as they don’t reflect the reality me and my colleagues live. First of all, I am not a member of a union. You are right in that there is lot of wrong which they condone (FAS springs to mind, I was a trainee there once) but in how they view how the country is going down the pan and how the budgets will not lead to recovery, they are unfortunately very right. I base this on my education and what I have learned regarding economies and how countries are doing it all wrong. We need a Roosevelt, not a Hoover. Second, even though I am not in a union, I believe I am the angriest. I watch my colleagues work their asses of with no complaint, slightly bewildered why they are the brunt of media ire, but getting on with it anyway. These people are abused by those who have no conception of public service and duty and use these terms to denigrate them if they raise so much as a whimper (I’m not talking about you or the general public in this regard, I’m referring to those who should know better and one of these is the HSE director of human resurces). It breaks my heart to see them, carrying on, helping the people as best they can and feel that it is an injustice that they are now regarded as public enemy number one. They hold no ill will or bad feelings towards to public nor do they begrudge any awards given to the private sector. They just want to be treated fairly and like human beings, not faceless drones as they’re currently being portrayed.

    On a final note, and I apologise if the above was a distraction regarding the Tallaght debate,


    Sorry if I wrote was wrong.

  46. http://www.financedublin.com/debtclock.php

    Yobbah, very well thought out response. And, as far as your opinions go, nothing you said is “wrong”. I don’t laim to be an expert in anything I’m going to talk about now, and I always will stand to be corrected!
    Also let me reiterate though that as far as I see it, the problem is not with people at your level – I have no doubt that you work very hard as do your colleagues, and do your honest best every day to try to do your job well and help people.

    Strking is indeed a right, and believe me, I had it drummed into me as a kid that Unions were the saviour of the country. My dad was a very powerful shop steward in Dublin in the 60s and 70s and he used to tell me stories about how they fought greedy private employers. Real cloak and dagger stuff. But they only ever fought when it came to worker’s rights, like unfair dismissal or poor working conditions, and never just because their members wanted more money. That’s the difference – nowadays all you hear from the Unions is “more money”. And that will not solve the economic crisis.
    There are legal rights, and there are moral ones. Sure, they may have the “right” to go on strike for more money, but they don’t have the moral high ground.
    Now, look at public sector middle management, and tell me they are not over-staffed. That’s why I say it’s a fact – because I know some of the people in those areas, who are sick of it, who tell me about the ridiculously engineered processes employed within middle management which produce nothing except for a paycheck at the end of the month for someone who would be far better off doing something else.

    Getting rid of these jobs does NOT mean thousands more on the dole starving for the rest of their lives. It means more money to invest in actual real productive services and companies, and more people taken OFF the dole queues and engagin in gainful employment. But, the Unions will not allow this. Hence my problem with the Unions.

    I want to say something about your point on the tax breaks for “the rich”. What do you think is being done with all this money they don’t have to pay? Are they filling their pools with tenners and going for a money-swim? Hoarding it like Scrooge McDuck? No, they are re-investing it, and making it work for them and the economy..sure, there are some who cash out and fuck the system, buy an island, etc, but the vast majority of them don’t. That’s why you have private sector Irish companies. There will always be crooks like Carroll and Fitzie, but the vast majority of these “rich” of which we speak are simply playing their roles as part of a (now defunct) economy.
    Also, Income tax — do you know how much money that’s taken from every Euro you pay in tax actually goes into the Exchequer? I don’t have a hard figure, but if I recall it’s less than 30%. Why? Because you have a huge bloated tax system that again is filled with nonsense processes and inefficient departments who all have staff that suck down a wage. Again, these people’s parasitic jobs are protected by unions who have no interest whatsoever in solving the problem.

    And I stand over what I said about not being able to starve on the Dole.
    I have a wife and kid to support. Due to an over-exuberance when I get paid (not to mention, mortgage, esb, gas, bank loan repayments, you know yourself how it is!!) , we often end up with maybe only 200 euros half-way through the month. We use 200 Euros over 14 days, (AND we both smoke) we have never, ever gone hungry. And we’re not the only ones…now by spending that small amount of money you’d think we were damaging the economy but in fact, by helping to lower inflation we and everyone else in our boat is doing this country a huge favour in the long-term.
    Also, I have a private sector job and I don’t get paid for overtime either, because like most private sector employees I am paid a salary. Sure, I get TIL but like yourself, I rarely get to take it.

    Visit the link above, and have a look at how much this nation owes to other people. That is the big problem, and why I stated that the country is in financial ruin, because the bottom line is, we are spending more money than we are making as a nation.

    And that’s why I maintain that everyone has to pay. Yes, it sucks. By all means after the ship has stopped sinking, we can lynch the people who helped to get us into this mess (but remember, every car loan you took, every credit card you have, all helped to contribute to this), but for now what is required is that everyone in this country pulls together and helps to stop this problem.

    Disposable income is a poison to the nation at this stage, because most of it does not go into the economy – it goes out of the economy. Only a very small fraction of what you pay for your DVD rental or your car or whatever actually stays in the country.

    As for restaurants and services closing down and pulling out because people are not spending money – that’s not really how it works.
    For every business that closes down due to a lack of customers, there are 10 that close down because they were run into the ground by their owners or management. Look at Hughes and Hughes, they didn’t close because people were not buying books, they closed because they brought in a new management team that alienated their customers to the point where H&H bookstores were not nice to go into any more (I know this because one of my sisters lost her job at H&H where she was in charge of one of the stores — basically they wanted them to be aggressive towards making sales and stop allowing people to come in and browse / sit in the corner and read). Of course they will blame it on the lagging economy, but that’s just to avoid admitting they fucked up.
    I mean, during the height of the boom, I say maybe 30 restaurants come and go in Limerick city alone. Why? Because they sucked. Not because there was no money being spent in them.
    This was masked during the boom years because there was always another company starting up for you to move to when your current one folded. But not any more.

    As for the likes of Sky – they lower their prices, or make freeview widely available because they know that this will bring in people who would not otherwise join Sky, a small percentage of whom will then stump up for the extra stuff like movies, etc. How much of your sky subscription actually stays in this economy? Very little. It goes to Rupert Murdoch, who in turn uses it to fund other ventures in other countries.
    That “broken window” is an economic liabilty,not an asset, because they are still taking money out of the economy when out balance things up. Yes, for people that might lose their jobs it sucks but as a nation, a system, we benefit in the long term.

    “They died so that others might live” – Now I know that seems like a terribly trite saying these days, but it is the fundamental basis for society since we first started to gather around communal camp fires. WE have to take a hit now, a really shitty horrible suck ass hit, but we have to do it, or else your and my grandkids will be having this argument in 30 years time.

    It’s odd that you say that my attitude is shared by everyone – because all I hear is people saying the opposite!

    Finally, you can actually do something about it – join a union. Fight them too. Try to make your voice be heard, and try to engender change from within. Try to help the unions to turn around so that they can go on strike not for more pay for their members but on behalf of this Nation, march with them on the government and demand that they cut out the dross in the public sector and streamline the system, and I guarantee you that in 10 years we will see a much healthier country with a stable economy.

  47. Steve, we could go on forever but we can agree to disagree!!!

    There are two paragraphs I would like to make certain points.

    I still stand over starvation and the dole. I, too, would have said the same thing were I still working in the private sector. The first “area” I worked in in the public sector I was horrified by what I saw. Unfortunately Steve, a lot of people are not as intelligent as ourselves. I have been on the dole before (I still recall scrabbling for one cent pieces under the couch on a Wednesday). A lot of people do not have budgeting skills. Many are easily duped, especially by certain sup prime companies (one in particular springs to mind, I would have them shot for cruelty they mete out.) Some call into us, or MABS just in time to receive some support. Others, unfortunately, have too much pride. And starve. I know you might not believe it, and sometimes I have a hard time believing it myself, but it is so.
    “Due to an over-exuberance when I get paid (not to mention, mortgage, …. bank loan repayments, you know yourself how it is!!)” No! I don’t!! (Except ESB and gas) I learned a few harsh lessons on the dole. But the rest of my colleagues do, with recently unemployed wives and husbands and children to keep. (Ahem, sorry, their children didn’t lose their jobs but I’m sure you know what i mean…)

    Regarding H&H: Steve, at least you speak honestly, something which is missing these days. From the papers and radio you’d get the impression that the entirety of the private sector was a well oiled machine that just “happens” to lose jobs. I know for a fact this is horsehit, as i worked in a small company called Dell (you might have heard of it!!). Dell cited “labour costs” as a factor in moving to Poland. (Ironically, the Poles in Lodz went on strike when they heard how much they were going to be paid, something like €2 an hour, poor by even Polish standards). Anyway, Dell used to be No. 1 in the world. Then it fell to number three. High management couldn’t understand how this could happen. Their computers were similar in price to HP and Toshiba etc. Maybe it may have had something to do with outsourcing customer support to India, and the consequent language difficulties. This frustrated tens of thousands of customers, most vowing to never buy a Dell again. Maybe it had something to do with their sales model. Why wait ten days for your PC which you needed to order online or call by phone when you can just go to PC World (sorry Bock) and pick one up. Maybe it had something to do with, as part of their cost cutting, getting rid of quality control. Maybe it had something to do with demoralising their best staff than encouraging them. (I still recall two Latvians, the finest builders on the line, telling me I worked too hard. In their view, working hard was no longer worth it.) Maybe it had something to do with constantly lying to your staff. When i left it to the “comforts” of the public sector, we were oh so assured that they wouldn’t be moving to Poland. Four months later they did just that. Government response: Send Mary Coughlan to negotiate in Texas. I was furious. To say the least. I often wished I stayed there. But then my world view would much narrower if I didn’t leave.

    Anyway, enough ranting on my part.

    Thanks Steve, I am accustomed to furious ravings and insults towards people in my occupation but, even though we disagree, you have been a pleasure.

  48. From the article.. “Neither the HSE nor the hospital will tell me if the xrays belong to public or private patients.” Ridiculous. Why isn’t this information made available!

  49. Very interesting article.

    @Yobbah, hats off to you, you have made some very salient points and I agree, will will leave it as an amicable disagreement.

    Fair point re the Dole, I certainly don’t want you to think I see it as a picnic or anything like that!

    You didn’t thikn I’d let you have the last word, did you? Ha Ha :)

    Re DELL, I’d like to point out that the writing on the wall was there for nearly 10 years – I knew people who had gone to Poland to setup that factory back in the start of the decade, with the express intention that it would replace EMF1 in Limerick. this was because DELL had forseen that as inflation grew, so would the costs associated with running the Irish plant, and at some point it would cease to be cost-effective.

    My point about private sector companies closing down is just that – they don’t close down because people aren’t buying….look at DELL — It wasn’t for a lack of people wanting to buy computers, as evidenced by the way that Dell’s lost market share directly translated into an increased market share for HP-aq and Toshiba, it was a corporation that got greedy, tried to make a fast buck, and drove away its loyal customers.(sounds evil but that’s what happens when you have a corporation) At that point the Limerick operation became a liabilty because we were costing too much.

    Hence the move…if we hadn’t allowed our economy to become so inflated, whereby workers needed to demand wages well above what they as producers were actually worth just to be able to afford a mortgage on a crappy house , then companies like DELL would still be here. A few years back Apple very nearly went too, because their tax break ran out – can’t recall who sorted it out at that time.

    Anyway what I should have explained when I mentioned about us all taking one for the team as it were, if we all could accept that in order for the economy to stabilise, we have to accept lower incomes, which will be painful at first, but then will see lower prices on goods and services, leading to a better standard of living (for everyone, especially those at the lower end of the scale, leading to more demand leading to more jobs leading to..oh wait, it’s a bloody vicious cycle, isn’t it..Argh!!)

    Anyway, peace out and I hope you keep your head high and continue to do a great job.

  50. You seem to know a lot about Dell Steve. I’m not sure if I’d agreed with the view that they left Limerick as it was a liability as it was costing too much. In my opinion the manufacturing side of Dell left Limerick as they could make more profit else where. That’s business I guess. It’s simple not true that Irish workers needed to demand wages well above what they as producers were actually worth. They were worth it in my opinion, their productivity was very high. It was just cheaper elsewhere, you can’t blame the workers. They hadn’t had a payrise in three years. They just simply could not compete with a wage of 2 euros an hour.
    I agree with your sentiment, that we need to have lower incomes to see lower costs of goods etc.. but take it from the high earners please. Cut out exorbitant TD expenses etc.. What about the money that could have been made from the Corrib gas field.. Why do the lower earners always have to foot the bill. They are simple not the ones to blame for the state of the economy.

  51. FME, I only know what I do about DELL by chance –and it’s not that much– because I had several very good friends work for them for a long time, all at various levels, so I was privy to information that the man on the street might not be.

    When I said that the Limerick plant had become a liabilty I mean in the sense that it was affecting DELL’s bottom line and since they could make the same product somewhere else for less, it was therefore a “liability” – because the CEO has a responsibility to the shareholders to maximise their ROI. That sucks in many ways, but that’s how it is.
    I didn’t mean that it was costing more than it made.

    I 100% agree that the DELL workers were very productive, no doubt about it – I remember ordering 2 servers on a Monday afternoon and getting them on Thursday morning, many of the line workers were only on the minimum wage to start off with, and I certainly don’t blame them for the situation. If anything, I feel they got a raw deal after having been lied to about the company’s intentions.

  52. Thanks for clarifying that Steve. I don’t believe the liability you’re referring to was in any way the workers fault. The economy being inflated had nothing to do with the move. Unless our economy was deflated to say the likes of Argentina, then Dell might have stayed put.. until such time that business could be done cheaper elsewhere,which is inevitable anywhere.
    Corporate greed and the bottom line I suppose. Shareholders.. who are these people anyways!

  53. Harney is a fat fuckin turd. What happened with the referral letters and the x rays is criminal.

  54. @ Dean

    They’ve outsourced the typing of those letters to a company in the Far East.

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