Marie Louise McConville: Our healthcare system is on its knees and it's not acceptable

Politicians up at Stormont need to start working together to help fix Northern Ireland's problems including its broken healthcare system
Marie Louise McConville

It's one of those things we never really think about when we're young - death.

I remember as a teenager thinking dying was something that only happened to the elderly - definitely not anyone my age.

But then, as we get older and experience it more, attending wakes and funerals, we realise death has no age limit, it could happen to anyone at any time.

Growing up, I recall hearing people talk about how "you never know the minute" and it's true.

Now that I'm older, I know it can happen in the blink of an eye.

Of course, the state of Northern Ireland's healthcare system at the moment doesn't exactly fill us with confidence that if something were to happen, we would receive the swift care we need.

It's a given that our medical personnel will do their absolute best but without the proper funding and resources, they can only do what they can - they're only human after all.

The thing is, we all must play a part.

There has been much discussion this week about whether members of the public should be fined for missing GP appointments.

Some years ago, I would have been fiercely opposed to such a move but that was then.

Now, I think it's a necessary move.

Why make an appointment to see your GP - which costs the NHS an average of £39 - and then not turn up?

These appointments are like gold dust and really, there's no excuse for not cancelling.

It's selfish and I think a fine would make people think twice.

A couple of weeks ago, a close friend of mine wasn't feeling too great.

It started with them feeling generally unwell and then over the course of a week or so, their sleep was disturbed.

On one of the days, I met up with them and they looked awful, white as a sheet and experiencing periods of shortness of breath.

I advised them to call their doctor.

Later, when I checked in, they informed me they did phone their GP surgery and despite explaining their symptoms, was offered only a phone appointment - 10 days later.


Five days later, my friend collapsed at work and was taken to the Ulster Hospital where it was found they had a lung and chest infection.

To be honest, while I was greatly relieved that my good friend was ok, I was really disturbed that this had been allowed to happen.

In fact, I was so fuming, I wanted to call the surgery but my friend asked me not to.

Is this the life we live now?

We must fend for ourselves, self-medicate, self-diagnose and wait for the worst to happen before we are actually seen by a doctor?

It's unacceptable.

It's time for Stormont to get to work to try to fix Northern Ireland's problems, starting with the broken healthcare system.


Fans of singer Peter Andre will be excited to learn that his reality TV show is making a comeback after almost 10 years.

The 49-year-old performer starred in 10 series of `Peter Andre: My Life' from 2009 until 2013, when he quit following the death of his brother, Andrew.

Peter said the new show would see the 'music management side of things' as his team is managing son Junior's new music career.

It is understood Peter's wife Emily and two oldest children, Junior and Princess, will be taking part.

I'm sure his fans are delighted.


It's almost time for the summer holidays so how about winning a bundle of educational toys to keep the kids entertained?

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Smart Toys & Games, Ireland is bringing the range to toy stores, book stores and homes across the country.

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The Go Genius Range is now available from CH Burns ToyMaster in Cookstown and Lurgan.

I have three Go Genius bundle packs to give away.

If you would like the chance to win a pack, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to

Closing date for entries is noon on Tuesday, June 7, 2022.

(Q) Which season comes after Spring?

Normal Irish News rules apply


The winner of the Leahy Beekeeping competition is Mary McCullagh, from Feeny, Co Derry

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