Your community, your West Cork, your South Star

Monday 12 November 2018 7:10 AM

The story by Jackie Keogh

Independent TD, Michael Collins, and Harro Feddersen of the Ahakista, are turning their way from Belfast to West Cork.

Following the enormous success of cataract buses already brought by 250 people from the southwest to Belfast for rescue operations, a similar hip and knee replacement service has now begun.

Knee and hip "to express" this week announced West Cork's independent TD, Michael Collins, who organized a cross-border operation with his colleague Dail, Kerry TD Danny Healy Raem.

And Deputy Collins attacked the government, which claimed that 3100 people had been dropped in the waiting list for cataract surgery over the past 13 months.

Deputy Collins says the statement that last weekend announced himself in the Health Ministry's press release, "overlaps" the reality of the situation on the ground.

In response to long waiting lists in West Cork and Kerry, MEPs Collins and Healy Rae felt obliged to organize a regular bus service at Kingsbridge Private Hospital in Belfast last year.

And after the article appeared South Star in November last year, which highlighted Johnse Patrick Harrington's 90-year route, which is 600 miles north, two Dailies were flooded with local queries for their life-changing cataract.

This week, Deputy Collins said there was no doubt that the waiting lists had fallen, since around 2,200 of these people had a non-state approach within the cross-border directive, an initiative that allowed everyone to get reimbursed for the cost of an efficient health service.

In 2014, before the details of the cross-border directive were known in detail, only seven people used it, Goleen TD said.

Deputy Collins said he and Healy Rae now helped 250 people travel north to 16 of the cataract express buses for surgery, and another 50 people will travel three buses before Christmas.

And he said they have now extended the service to those who need to travel north to meet hip and knee replacement consultants as well as other surgical procedures such as tonsillitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

He has already said that 35 of these people have helped treat hip joint surgery and another 20 patients who have had a knee surgery.

Deputy Collins described an investment of EUR 1 million in the New Cataract Center at Nenagh Hospital, which was opened earlier this week, as "long overdue" and said he had written to Harris asking him to make a similar investment in the Bantry General Hospital.

Last Sunday, Minister Simon Harris said: "This year there has been continuous improvement of waiting list numbers and especially for specific procedures including cataract. While the improvement in overall numbers waiting for cataract has been steadily improving, it is all the more significant when taking into account the numbers that have been waiting for more than nine months have fallen by 80% since July 2017. "

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