‘I just don’t think it was very fair’ – Dublin star Healy critical of Varadkar’s comments on medics

Updated Jan 8th 2019, 5:03 PM

DUBLIN FORWARD NOELLE Healy was a vocal critic of Leo Varadkar’s comments on hospital workers before Christmas, when he called on doctors and nurses not to take any annual leave over the festive period due to a shortage of staff.

Noelle Healy at the launch of Future Proof Media, the low cost, jargon free marketing consultants.

Source: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

Speaking in the Dáil last November, the Taoiseach said hospitals needed to operate “at full whack” over the Christmas and New Year, warning them not to take holidays in the first fortnight January.

Four-time All-Star Healy, who balances her inter-county career with a demanding job as an anaesthetist in Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown, was among hundreds of healthcare workers who posted messages on Twitter around Christmas with the hashtag ‘#ImAtWorkLeo.’

“I’d just come off a weekend of night shifts and was a bit emotional,” remarks Healy now about that tweet, which gained huge traction online.

Three 24 hour shifts in 6 days and 2 in the last three . It cool if I take a day or two off to celebrate Christmas with my fam @campaignforleo ?

Thank you to everyone working over the next two days and beyond #hardworkinghealthservice 🌟#ImAtWorkLeo

— Noëlle Healy (@NoelleHealy) December 24, 2018

She had little downtime during the holidays, working 24-hour shifts on 21 and 23 December and enjoying two days off before she resumed work.

“There was a lot on social media about it. I think it was just an easy out for him to say, ‘Oh, there’s not enough staff, if they were working it would be easier.’ Of course there’s not enough staff. People are leaving – half of my college friends are working in Australia at the moment because there’s better pay, there’s better work-life balance.

“It just doesn’t seem fair when people are giving up time they could be spending with their family, staying late mostly, potentially not getting paid for it, working overnight, putting themselves in stressful situations, working when they’re sick.

Noelle Healy during the 2018 All-Ireland final.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Healy continues: “I just don’t think it was fair for them to say that because people are taking holidays, that’s why there’s a beds crisis. There’s a beds crisis because it’s winter; people are getting the flu, people are getting sick and there’s not enough beds, there’s not enough wards open, there’s not enough nurses to look after the patients.

“We don’t have big enough emergency departments, we don’t have the infrastructure for it – it’s not people aren’t showing up.

For somebody who’d worked in the industry himself, I just don’t think it was very fair. People work extremely hard, there’s a great solidarity there. That was shown on social media as well.

“It was great that it got picked up because sometimes maybe there isn’t enough appreciation for the work that staff and, yeah, the health service isn’t great, but when you actually get into the health service, the care that you get is as good as anywhere.”

She believes there is more the government could be doing in terms of healthcare, with funding a major issue.

“Prevention is better than cure. A lot of the problems that we see are smoking and alcohol-related. People get sick, people get cancer, people have accidents – that’s fine. Prevention in terms of good nutrition, anti-smoking campaigns, anti-drinking campaigns will always help reduce it.

“Better funding for GP’s would have huge say in it. They are under an awful lot of pressure. With the free health care coming in for the U6s, it’s obviously brilliant but it just puts a huge amount of pressure on them.

“I had to ring up for an appointment with a GP before Christmas and the nearest appointment was three days later. If somebody feels like they really need something, they’re just going to rock up to their local A&E.
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“Prevention definitely and more front line between with improving GP’s and A&E’s. If you they could have picked one, they probably would have solved it at this stage. It’s probably a combination of an awful lot of things. ”

On the football front, the dust had hardly settled on Dublin’s second All-Ireland ladies football victory in as many seasons when rumours started to swirl about manager Mick Bohan jumping ship to the Roscommon men’s team. 

Noelle Healy shakes Mick Bohan’s hand after coming off in the 2018 All-Ireland final.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Bohan managed ten of last season’s Roscommon side through his involvement with DCU so when Kevin McStay vacated the hot seat, the Dublin native was linked with the role.

A former skills coach with Dublin under Jim Gavin and in Clare with Colm Collins, Bohan took charge of the county’s ladies team in 2017. They’d been defeated in the last three All-Ireland finals when he was appointed, but head into 2019 with three-in-a-row in their sights. 

Despite the links with Roscommon, Healy and the rest of the Dublin squad had no concerns their manager would depart.

“No, not really,” she says. “Because he came down the day after the final and said he’d already watched the match and done analysis on it.

“He was like, ‘We’ve a few things to improve for next year.’ So you’re going, ‘Well I guess he’s staying.’ 

He has a huge passion for Dublin football. He has two young girls himself and I think he sees the way that we interact with them and the way they look up to us.

“I think, does he feel there’s more of a bond there? Or maybe that he was more of a bit of responsibility to try elevate ladies football to create more role models for young girls like his two.

Just like Mick said, we’re just trying to improve the type of football that we play because everybody is going to have improved from last year. If we stand still, we’re just going to get overtaken. We just need to see where we can improve.” 

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Healy reached new heights under Bohan and was named Footballer of the Year in 2017, while she collected an All-Star in each of his two seasons over the side. 

“A lot of his coaching style is reminding us of why we play football, who we’re playing it for and what we represent and the style of football – be it men or women who have gone before – played in the Dublin style that he talks about.

I think for him he’s Dublin through and through. As much as people would see ladies football as a stepping stone, I don’t think he sees it that way.

“I think he knows not only the bond but the environment and standards that we have and also the desire to improve and to see what we can do. Thankfully he saw it as good enough to stay.”

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