Motor neurone disease – the economics and the power

How many nurses does it take to give a ventilator machine (NIPPY) to a woman in respiratory failure from motor neurone disease? Many jokes start with the same line but sadly this isn’t a joke.

At Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, it seems one nurse is in charge of administering it. When she is on holiday for 2 weeks, the patient gets put on the long finger. No-one has any authority to do that nurse’s job it seems based on recent experience. It then takes that nurse and 2 – yes 2 – more nurses to drive to the other end of the country to deliver it and explain it and help the patient get used to it. They don’t travel together, each adding to the nation’s carbon footprint and the cost of running the HSE (think of the expenses involved).

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