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Opinion column killed the radio star

Ahead of the looming abortion referendum, Dr Ruairi Hanley has the last word on the new Orwellian ‘thought police’ of virtue signalling; and deteriorating communication standards

A few weeks ago, I decided to quit my regular weekly slot on Today FM’s The Last Word. I had been doing the gig for almost a year and thoroughly enjoyed almost every minute of it.

Dr Ruairi Hanley

Those sneering critics in cyberspace, who probably hoped I was sacked ,may rest assured my departure was entirely my own decision.
For the record, and for the benefit of those who have never met him, Matt Cooper is a genuinely nice guy with a great sense of humour, an increasingly rare quality in Ireland these days.

Furthermore, his prod-uction team were a class act and a pleasure to deal with every week.

The main reason I left was due to work pressures. Being a general practitioner (GP) now requires many hours of tedious paper work just to keep going in addition to our clinical responsibilities.

Travelling to and from Dublin is also becoming increasingly difficult for those of us GPs who (unlike the majority of the younger generation) are actually willing to work outside the M50.

Occasionally I got around this by doing interviews by phone, but the sound quality is rarely as good as it is in studio.

Cyber gangs
There was, however, another reason why I walked — one I alluded to some weeks ago in this column.

Every time I went on air, I was aware of the existence of a nasty little group of people online who were just longing to take offence.

These are the new Orwell­ian “thought police” of virtue signalling, overwhelmingly left wing characters whose avowed mission in life is to suppress all opinion they disagree with.

Their methods are very simple. Ignore all coherent argument and focus instead on finding one word or comm­ent they arbitrarily deem offensive.
They can then run to the internet screaming in righteous indignation before demanding heads on a plate. Sadly, this is what passes for civil discourse in modern Irish society.

To date, I largely avoided the attention of the new politically correct cyber gang.

But, in truth, I feared it was only a matter of time before I would say something direct, honest and blunt on air which would probably have handed the mob the excuse they needed to burn me at the stake.

Do not under­estimate the desire these people have to punish and humiliate others. Indeed, things were likely to get a lot worse with the looming abortion referendum, a subject which I have decided to make no public comment on whatsoever.

So farewell then and thank you to Today FM; from now on, I will stick to the writing.

Outpatients’ fiasco
Is it my imagination or is the standard of communication between hospitals and primary care getting worse? While some individual coll­eagues excel in their ability to talk to us GPs, many others seem very difficult to contact.

For example, how often have we GPs learned of surgical procedures, new diagnoses and medication changes months after the event?

This contrasts markedly with the speed and efficiency that seems to exist when patients are being kicked off a waiting list due to an alleged failure to respond to a Health Service Executive ‘validation’ exercise. Furthermore, how many hours of our lives have been wasted on the phone to a Dublin ‘centre of excellence’ hoping that someone will answer us?

How many times have patients attended us having been instructed by an administrator to ‘get a stronger letter’ to speed up their outpatient appointment?
There also seems to be a phenomenon whereby patients are completely incapable of naming a single doctor they have met in various hospital admissions.

While in some cases this is through no fault of the colleagues in question, there certainly seems to be a pattern whereby patients are unaware of whom their treating consultant actually is.

Surely, it is not too much to ask that a patient be given a piece of paper telling them this information before they leave hospital?
It is hardly rocket science, lads.

Clinically dangerous
Finally, we have the follow-up problem, a subject that I have addressed many times in the past.

This is the shaft whereby a hospital doctor identifies an issue with a patient that requires review by another specialist.

Rather than do this task themselves, they instead send a deeply annoying letter to the GP telling them to do the necessary.

Often the patient remains ignorant of what is going on.

Personally speaking, I feel there must be zero tolerance to this particular piece of work evasion.

Not only is it clinically dangerous and a waste of GP time, it also shows complete contempt for those of us in primary care who presumably have nothing better to do than act as a glorified secretarial service for other colleagues who decided not to bother.

Strangely enough, this problem almost never seems to arise in private hospital facilities where efficiency is prized above all else.

Morale among Irish GPs has never been lower, and it would be nice if our hospital colleagues could recognise this.

A little effort on these issues would go a long way towards making our lives a lot easier.

Until next week — farewell!


One comment

  1. I am sad to hear of Ruairi’s departure from TodayFM. I enjoyed listening to his weekly contributions. They were a refreshing change from the banal tripe that we have to endure on Radio SIPTU and other stations. He is a true loss to the discourse on health matters in this country.

    I always felt that Ruairi’s most telling comment was when he said that ” there are a lot of angry people in this country, and they like to take their anger out on doctors”. Never was a truer statement made about our profession and our society. I remember sitting in my car, listening to my radio, and thinking: Why aren’t our unions/ colleges saying this?

    You will be missed Ruairi, but well done on your efforts.

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