On Christmas Eve, Dublin footballer Noelle Healy was one of numerous health sector workers to send a tweet Leo Varadkar's way.
Their intention: to inform the Taoiseach that they had, or would be, working long and unsociable hours over the Christmas period.
Seven weeks previously, Varadkar had raised the ire of hospital staff and more by suggesting they should not take holidays over Christmas and the New Year, a time of peak strain on the health care system.
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
"I'd just come off a weekend of night shifts and was a bit emotional," said Healy, who was speaking at the launch of Future Proof Media.
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The three-time All-Ireland winner, who is an anaesthetist at Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown, had worked a 24-hour shift on December 21st and another on December 23rd.
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.
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 that people aren’t showing up.
Healy found it particularly annoying that Varadkar's background in medicine - he worked as a junior doctor and qualified as a GP - did not give him sympathy for the situation of those who work in the Irish health care system.
"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."
Dublin ladies footballer Noelle Healy at the launch of Future Proof Media, the low cost, jargon free marketing consultants. Visit www.futureproofmedia.ie to see how they can help you grow your business. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile