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Last weeks budget showed the stark problems with the HSE’s health services funding. Friday and Saturday, I saw the impact of those funding difficulties. My son was referred to St. James’s Hospital in Dublin for a series of tests as referred for by his GP. We arrived at 5.45pm on Friday afternoon and my son did not get access to the Accident and Emergency Doctor until nineteen hours later at 12.45 on Saturday afternoon. Thankfully everything was ok and after such a period of concern, the most important thing was that he was fine and healthy, but you do spend that time worrying and concerned, when nothing is definitive and your child hasn’t been evaluated, no matter what age they are. There were numerous problems and difficulties experienced by us and other patients who had to endure a nightmare-ish marathon waiting to be attended to. The reception area was freezing cold, the seats as uncomfortable as could be and the flow of information was non existent in the main, although the overnight nurse was extremely helpful and informative, as much as she could be. There appeared to be chronic understaffing, with one nurse mainly dealing with most of the over night patients and only three doctors tending to those who passed through the A&E, we were told that only one of these was a senior doctor. The argument that was made was that it was an extremely busy night with numerous emergency situations to deal with. However, we only noticed four or maybe five ambulance referrals throughout the night, maybe there was more hidden in a secret entrance that we were unaware of, but the skeleton numbers of staff on duty, surely was a greater contributor to the backlog. Of the others waiting with us to be seen, were people with serious health concerns, including a woman who said she with a clot on her brain that needed to be be investigated and a man later on who said he had suffered a minor heart attack, but these cases and others were not considered ’emergencies’. What can we expect with proposed budgetary savings of €666 million in the health service, that are likely to exceed €1 billion, what will that mean for even scarcer resources, will we see ward closures and even more cutbacks in staffing? One of the most concerning issues is that at least a dozen people left the A&E due to the excessive waiting times, it seems we now have a health service that massages numbers and relies on people leaving queues in order to maintain it’s service output. What a terrible indictment of our society and Government policies that prioritises balancing a budget over the care of its citizens. As one member of the staff in the hospital said, it’s not our fault, it’s the Governments fault that we are in this situation.