New SSCS Forum launched

Because of the huge upheaval many patients now face in the NW.
SSCS campaigners decided that a forum might help people stay in touch.
Or to get help or even just be a place to chat.
Where else can they cam tell people about whats going on under Harneys regime.Feel free to drop by.

One vote-make it count

The Politics of Men.................12 months on

This was originally posted almost 12 months ago, with the Lisbon referendum high on the agenda. With another round of elections approaching us now in 2009, this one a mis-match of European, local and bye-elections, the post seems as relevant if not more so. Although a lot has changed since then and unfortunately theres a lot more that hasnt. One fact cannot be denied, Sligos Cancer services still exist and grow and outperform every single cancer clinic in the country.
When written last year, this was in response to the growing intensity of the campaign, the unrelenting apathy and indifference of Fianna Fail and Mary Harney and the steely determination coming from the most unlikely of surces.

IMPACT serves strike notice at Sligo General

29/04/2009 - 18:24:19

The IMPACT trade union has served strike notice to Sligo General Hospital management, with a picket to take place next Wednesday.

The trade union’s 300 members at the hospital want management to reverse their decision removing the automatic entitlement of staff to sick pay.

SIPTU has already served notice that their members will strike at the hospital next Tuesday.

Unions are due to meet the HSE in relation to the dispute in Dublin on Friday.

Devins Delivers his greatest lie yet

Not content with betraying the entire population of the Northwest in 2008, now Devins is back with more lies.

Now he expects us to believe that Cowen fired him because of his stance on Sligo's Cancer Services!
What stance?
  • The one you took againts keeping the cancer services here?
  • The stance you took on behalf of Mary Harney and the HSE?
  • The Stance you took against the people of the Northwest in Dáil Eireann on the 21/05/2008?
Theres not one person west of the Shannon stupid enough to believe that including you DOCTOR Devins.

When his constituents needed him most, he did the same as every other coward in Fianna Fail does, towed the party line, hoped no-one would notice and if they did notice that it would all blow over.

Well, everyone noticed Jimmy, we noticed the lies you perpatrated on behalf of Mary Harney, the lies you supported against the staff of Sligo General and the lies you told to us personally and to the press.
You're finished in Sligo Jimmy, you betrayed the people of the Northwest and then Fianna Fail betrayed you, don't expect any sympathy from any of us.

You sold your soul and got €53,000 of taxpayers money for it.

The Usual Suspects

Some things never change

Devins, Coughlan, Cowen, Harney, Scanlon.

Liars, Hypocrites, Idiots, Corrupt or just plain useless?
Take your pick

IMO vote 'No Confidence' in HSE and governments health 'Policies'

At their annual conference, the IMO described the hse as 'Hellish' and passed an unanimous motion of No confidence in the governments health 'Policies'.
It ha sto be asked, what more do they need to know before the HSE is disbanded for good and Harney put out to pasture.
All shes good for, is grazing anyway

April 10th we're taking to the streets

APRIL 10th 2009. O'CONNELL STREET, SLIGO The people of the northwest are taking the lead countrywide and taking back whats rightfully theirs.

The campaign is inviting all health groups from across the region to join them in their 'Great Friday' march.

We are no longer asking for our services to be left alone, we are demanding it.
We are taking back our Health Services, Our Hospitals and Our Rights.
We no longer recognise the Minister for Health Mary Harney.
We no longer recognise the authority of the HSE
We no longer recognise and actively oppose any body (political or otherwise) that opposes fair and equitable health services for all.


Mary 'I see dead people' Coughlan

A year ago before becoming Tánaiste, Mary Coughlan promises campaigners she supports the retention of cancer services in Sligo and will do all she can to help her hospital. After 6 months of ignored letters, emails and phonecalls, 4 members of the campaign (myself included) travel to Donegal town to the now Tánaistes constituency office. The idea was that a hand delivered request for a meeting couldnt possibly be ignored, we're in a democracy after all and these people work for us, dont they?

The reception was not exactly welcoming, with Coughlans staff of three refusing to give their names and then threatening to call police! We were less then politely ushered off the property and it would be over 5 months later before we finally came face to face with the Sarah Palin of Donegal.
For some inexlicable reason the management of Sligo General decided that Coughlan was the right person to invite to open a new unit in a hospital where the same woman was now supporting the closure of the cancer unit. The fact that Coughlan had completely turned her back on the people of the region, did a complete u-turn on her supposed support for Sligo seemed lost on them, even if everyone else noticed the glaring hypocrisy.
After postponing the event in February, the Tániste (who now apparently had the countries finances in control)visited Sligo General. And on March 6th, the management pulled out all the stops to welcome their vaunted guest. The press arrived and so did the protestors.
Arriving early, the second in command was met by some of the campaigners from north Sligo and Donegal. In her own inimitable way, she told them to forget about the cancer services 'they were gone, agreement had been reached with the GP's', this despite the fact that on not one single occasion has she spoken to the GP association regarding Sligos cancer services. She then went on to explain the reasoning behind the closure 'if Tim snuffed it, what would happen?'-- her words. The Tim she was referring to is the cancer control director for the Northwest and a consultant surgeon, one of a pair of surgeons in Sligos Oncology centre. Finally when the campaigners, angry at her idiotic and insensitive comments advised they would never vote for her again, she replied 'I couldnt care less who you vote for'-- again her words not mine.
Shortly after 5pm, we decided to go into the hospital, sick of standing outside hospitals from Galway to Dublin and back, tired of standing in every kind of weather and tired of being routinely ignored in the process, we entered our hospital determined to carry our message to the Tánaiste.

At first all seemed normal, the guards and security saw no threat and we entered unmolested. It wasn't long however, before the mood changed. The first signal came from the management themselves, who apparently were unhappy with our presence, afraid of trouble or a ruined photo opportunity. 'As long as we were left alone, there would be no disturbance' we promised but within moments the mood had changed and 18 months of frustration and anger soon started to reveal itself. As we positioned ourselves around the dias awaiting the Tánaiste, a member of her staff decided to pull a banner out of a campaigners hands, managing to push her against the wall while at the same time informing us 'that we had no right to be there as this was private grounds, it was, as they say, all downhill from there.

From the start of her speech, the air crackled with shouts of 'Liar' and 'hypocrite', the usual rehearsed drivel we've become so used to was only broken by questions about the future of cancer patients and reasons why the Tánaiste sold us all out. None were answered of course but none could be ignored either.
The cathaoirleach of Sligo, FF coucillor Jude Devins followed the Tánaiste on to the podium, obviously taking his cue from his party colleague he managed to enrage the crowd even further. His talk on 'customers' and 'customer service' drew an immiediate reaction from the crowd who still consider themselves 'patients' in need of 'health care. As he is want to do, jude looked bemused and more than a little lost but continued on with his speech to barely disguised disgust.
Fiasco, sham, publicity stunt, photo opportunity, take your pick, all were used to describe the shameful PR exercise witnessed that Friday. With the air reeking of the Tánaiste's hypocrisy, we left much as we had arrived, with a bitter taste in our mouths and the campaign on our minds. Prof Keane's due the following wednesday, so theres no time to rest or as an Tánaiste is prone to do whenever faced with a challenge, have a 'period of reflection'.
Unbeknownst to us, Coughlan had done an interview for local radio on that same Friday and had spoken freely about the economy and Irelands disappearing finances. As we listened on Monday morning to her interview, her lack of insight and understanding of all things fiscal was suddenly eclipsed by her next statement. With an unusually soft voice, Coughlan told us how people have gone to their eternal reward, wishing they had better treatment and less invasive surgery then was available at Sligo General, how there were experts but not expertise at the hospital. I had to have the interview replayed to me over the phone that night to be sure this is what I indeed heard and I was surprised to discover, that this was in fact, what she had said. Not content to talk complete nonsense about the economy, now shes communicating with the dead and has even polled them on their opinions of Sligo. General. Here was evidence of the Tánaistes renowned competitive streak, no matter how low the bar is set, she will strive to lower it even further and she manage to do just that.
To the Sarah Palin of South Donegal, we salute you, amongst a generation of bottom feeding politicans, politics has hit an all time low.
I wonder if she can see Sligo General from her house?

2008, a year to forget

12-13 specialist breast cancer centres were recommended by the Prof O’Higgins report in 2000. His plans included one in Sligo to provide these vital services to the people of the Northwest. Breastcheck had been successfully rolled out in parts of Dublin and a country wide rollout was imminent, it seemed as if the Irish government had finally realised the serious threat that cancer posed to the lives of people in Ireland and had finally decided to act.
Fast forward to February 2007, Fianna Fail TD and Jr. Minister for health, Dr. Jimmy Devins and the then Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern are pictured with a petition of some 13,000 signatures in an effort to bring much needed radiotherapy to Sligo and the people of the region. Within 6 months though, the Minister for Health, Mary Harney backed by the government announced that the services in Sligo General Hospital were to be closed, that there would be only 8 centres of excellence and patients from the Northwest would have to travel to Galway, Dublin or even further afield for life saving treatment. To add insult to injury, Breastcheck had still not being rolled out to the Northwest. Of course this all became clear after the general elections of 2007 and the northwest of the country was left facing an even more uncertain future then before.
Following protests in Sligo and Dublin late in 2007, a small group of cancer patients and survivors started a ‘campaign to retain’. Td’s, senators and counsellors from all parties attended campaign meetings, stood shoulder to shoulder with protestors and publicly stated their support for Sligo General hospital and the excellent services provided there by Mr. Tim O’Hanrahan and his team of consultants and specialists. Early 2008 saw more protests including a moving candlelit vigil outside Sligo General on a freezing cold Good Friday, attended by thousands. The campaign’s momentum continued to grow throughout the spring of ’08, culminating in one of the biggest concerts Sligo ever saw on April 26th. Again our TD’s and senators stood amongst the protestors, vying for their place in the photos and media coverage that followed, within a month however, their true loyalties were revealed when Fianna Fail TD’s from across the Northwest voted against a motion to save Sligo’s cancer services. Weeks later their colleagues in the senate followed suit and the worst fears of campaigners were realised, party loyalty and careers took precedence over the people they had promised to represent.
The summer of 2008 saw a new Taoiseach, a Tánaiste from Donegal and hopes of change. In early June, more promises were made, this time a new luxury coach for those patients still forced to travel daily to UCHG. Yet despite initial hopes, it quickly became clear that nothing had changed at least not for the good. By the time September had arrived, campaigners had travelled to UCHG, Fianna Fail’s conference in Ballybrit and to the top of legendary Knocknarae. A petition had been lodged with Europe and campaigners had spent weeks travelling to the towns and villages across the northwest, handing out thousands of leaflets.

In September, the group met with the Minister for Health and Prof Tom Keane. They met a woman so detached from the reality of the Irish health system, there seemed little point talking to her. Here was a minister who refused to acknowledge the extent of the problems she helped create and a professor drafted in from Canada who refused to even meet with consultants on the ground in the Northwest or even visit the centres they had built up through hard work and dedication to their patients.Whatever the answers they were seeking they wouldn’t find them in Mary Harney’s offices, that much was very clear.

To coincide with Breast awareness month in October, MEPs Marion Harkin and Jim Higgins brought a delegation from the campaign over to Brussels. There we met Robert Madeline, the DG of Health in Europe, the contrast between this meeting and that with the Irish minister for Health was stark. Here was a civil servant who actually cared about people, their health and their rights, we spoke at length with him and the MEPS and returned home with renewed hope but also to an early budget.
You don’t need us to tell you the disaster the budget was, Budget 2009 attacked the young, the old and the sick and October and November saw protests countrywide. Harney appeared ever determined that ‘her’ cancer strategy would go ahead even though Drogheda’s move to Dublin was deferred, Waterford’s beds were slashed to 19 and Galway continued to struggle with the increased workload that followed the closure of Castlebars centre. The Irish people had to sit back and watch as the HPV vaccine was cancelled because the treatment that could save the lives of young women was deemed ‘poor value’ by Harney and the HSE. Sligo’s campaign continued unabated, hardy protestors joined the ‘Patients Together’ group in Dublin and marched once again to Kildare street. On the 1st of December they picketed the Minister for Health as she treated a group of international experts to a few days in the ‘Four Season’s’ in Dublin. The theme of the conference was ‘restoring the public’s faith’ in our cancer services, the irony was lost on nobody.
At the end of 2008, we still have a minister for health who received less first preference votes than there were mammograms in Sligo General last year. A minister for health with no party and no mandate and yet there she sits alongside the Taoiseach and our own Tánaiste. The Northwest is still at risk of losing its cancer services, Breastcheck has not yet arrived and Senator Feeney’s luxury coach? ..The less said about that the better.

But the news isn’t all bad however, the EU accepted the campaign’s petition and it has now passed to the commission. The campaign has grown to include groups in 5 counties and the consultants and GPs of Sligo and SGH have set up their own committee and publicly stated their opposition to the ill thought out strategy. On top of that, councillors of all parties from all over the Northwest, signed a letter stating their support of the campaign.
Now in 2009 and with the local and European elections looming, the government will have to sit up and take notice and it’s up to all of us to make sure they do just that. Just as the consultants of SGH realised that this is more than just the loss of our cancer services we too have realised that this is more than just a campaign about cancer services. This campaign is about our rights and your rights, rights as Irish and European citizens, rights as patients, the rights of your children and family to free and equitable health care as promised by our constitution and your rights as a human being.
At a meeting in March a woman asked why her life was worth less than that of a woman in Dublin or Cork or Galway? Before she died, the same woman asked that the campaign never stop, that no-one, man or woman, of any colour, age or creed should suffer as she did, that she would not accept that her life was worth less, simply because of where she lived.
We agree and for that one reason alone, we will not stop, we will not be treated like second class citizens and we are not asking for our rights anymore, we are demanding them.


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