By Jimmy Rhatigan
Pic: Donal Foley
TODAY, Wednesday, we give Reporter readers telephone and website numbers that could save their lives
The hotline to a new, pain-free life is 056-77-84556 and the web to browse is firstname.lastname@example.org
For those languishing on long waiting lists for hospital appointments, writhing in pain, perhaps desperately in need of surgery, the keys to almost immediate consultation and treatment by world class medical professionals could be a Godsend.
We have no magic wand but we have shared the positive story of a local man who, after receiving horrific injuries in a fall, accidentally found the wherewithal to tender loving care and surgery in Northern Ireland and with our Health Services Executive footing the bill.
It is the sad tale of a loving family man whose life was dramatically changed by a tumble on a stairway but a positive story too as he today shares his experiences with our readers and wishes that the wonderful medics he met will bring the relief and hope they gave to him into the lives of thousands of others in our city and county.
Charlie Molyneaux of Cherrymount, Stoneyford, opens what we might term a secret door to healthcare that could save many lives.
Many GPs not aware of Healthcare Directive
It was in June 2016 that former bakery firm sales manager for 25 years, Charlie Molyneaux’s active life was dramatically changed when he was rushed to hospital with what proved to be inoperable back and chronic shoulder injuries.
A fighter, he was determined to grapple with injury that brought piercing pain which left him aching day and night.
Following x-rays, meetings with his GP in Kilkenny City and a surgeon in Waterford, an attempt was made to get an appointment with a leading orthopaedic professor in Cork.
It was then that Charlie, aged 56, a public health patient, got the kind of shock that rivalled his stairs fall when he was told that he would be on a waiting list for 18 months.
He was despondent but refused to despair.
An accidental insight into the medical life of RTE’s Northern Ireland Editor, journalist Tommie Gorman provided the key that opened a practically unknown doorway to healthcare in top hospitals outside the Republic of Ireland.
Charlie is delighted today, Wednesday, to spread the gospel of positivity and hope that could bring a new life to thousands.
“Tommy spoke on television about how he went for treatment for serious illness in Austria and that put me in investigatory mood,” Charlie told The Reporter.
“I trawled and I trawled and finally hit the jackpot when I discovered The Cross Border Healthcare Directive which has its local HQ at St Canice’s Hospital, Kilkenny City.
“This is a cross border scheme introduced in 2015, something that our Department of Health fought tooth and nail against having to implement. Today many GPs are still unaware of its existence.
“I am no longer crucified by pain since I discovered that the motorway to Belfast would lead me and others in similar precarious positions to some of the world’s best medical professionals at Kingsbridge Private Hospital, Lisburn Road, Belfast.
“So, a scheme that, to say the least, is not well publicised, meant that instead of hanging around for 18 months to discuss my problems, I had my first consultation a week after I applied to the scheme and two weeks later I had the surgery that has killed my pain and enabled me to walk with the aid of crutches.”
Treatment for everyone in the audience
And the brilliant news is that there is similar treatment available for everyone in the audience should they decide to push frustrating queues and waiting lists to one side.
“Don’t suffer in silence, don’t put up with pain or neglect,” is Charlie’s message.
“You are not jumping long waiting lists, you are availing of a service that is there thanks to the European Union but which someone seems determined to keep under wraps.
“To my amazement, I discovered that many GPs were not aware of this scheme. I spoke with my own GP who was aware of the scheme and also helped other doctors who had never heard of the plan.
“I know of one GP who over the last two months has sent eight people to Kingsbridge Hospital for different procedures.
“It is important not to get this scheme mixed up with the Treatment Abroad Scheme where your GP cannot put you forward and you must go through a surgeon and onto a waiting list.
“The Cross Border Healthcare Directive is available to anyone who wishes to partake. You pay up front, bring home your receipts and will be reimbursed to at least 90% by the HSE locally.
“I came across a man from New Ross who had been waiting two years for a hip replacement. He is now home from hospital, a new man, seven weeks later.
“There are many hospitals in the scheme across Europe but I would recommend Kingsbridge Private Hospital which, for patients from Kilkenny and the South East means that you don’t have to travel across Belfast City as the hospital is 10 minutes off the motorway on the south side of Belfast.
“I am so happy that I found this scheme and happier still to spread the good news amongst sufferers in my home city and county and am confident that they will get the same wonderful care as I got and really appreciate,” said Charlie.
“I will be delighted to help or give the benefit of my experience to those who might