Mark Dobson: Ailing health service can no longer be left in limbo
In his weekly column, transplant recipient Mark Dobson, who is the son of former MLA Jo-Anne, calls on our leaders to help the health professionals doing an amazing job under severe pressure
As patients few people know our own medical needs better than ourselves. I know that my consultants know my medical case so intimately and I am always thankful for their constant care and attention to my needs.
That's how it goes when you can have a personal link with those who look after you and speaking with so many patients at the renal units I know I am not alone in being able to highly commend our kidney care professionals across Northern Ireland.
However, few of us think about the real and increasing pressures which health professionals face at all levels across our health service. Those pressures can only increase when we consider the much needed changes - dubbed a 'Transformation Plan' or even snazzier 'Systems Not Structures' - which we are told are coming down the line.
I say coming, but the 'transformation' train may not even have left the station yet. Month after month the constant round of preparing, worrying and waiting is leaving our healthcare professionals in a constant state of limbo.
Meanwhile, despite this uncertainty and an increasing workload their everyday priority continues to be working with patients across all specialities in the best interests of their long-term care.
The potential of this current state of limbo on staff morale cannot be underestimated. The last thing us patients want to see is for the health service on which we rely to end up with ever increasing levels of staff turn around - it's bad for doctors, nurses and auxiliaries, bad for patients and bad for healthcare full stop.
Why am I going on about health service reforms? Well, I know what it's like to be totally and completely reliant on life-savers and I want to make sure that they receive the support and services they need to be able to continue to make more miracles happen for local people.
We know that changes across our health service need to happen sooner rather than later so let's start to see leadership at all levels - it's been lacking for far too long. We have enough high-level reports to wallpaper our cattle sheds so let's see the changes beginning to take place in the best interests of all patients, both now and in the future.
Of course, organ donation and the needs of kidney patients need to be right up there to maintain and advance our services which remain the envy of health service systems across the world. The life-savers at the renal unit at Belfast City Hospital continue to monitor my levels very closely and I am so thankful for the constant care they provide me.
Speaking of being thankful, a few weeks ago the local Quarry Products Association organised a Charity Golf Day in aid of Kidney Care UK and the Friends of the Cancer Centre. This was their seventh annual event involving participants from across the local quarry product industry and it was marvellous that they raised a fantastic £4,534 split between both charities to help kidney and cancer patients.
So while they enjoyed a fantastic day on the course they also raised funds and awareness for two very important causes helping patients across Northern Ireland.
Well done Quarry Products Association NI and especially their regional director Gordon Best for all the personal commitment and hard work he put into organising a superb day at the Hilton Templepatrick Golf and Country Club.
Just a final shout out to transplant patients to remember to take care of yourselves in the sun.
As the weather hots up once again and we get warmer than Greece, it's important for us transplant patients to remember to 'slap on' the factor 50 to protect us from the sun.
I spoke about this in my column a few weeks ago but didn't think we would be sweltering in the heat again just so quickly. Enjoy every minute of it and stay safe.