Friday 30 September 2016

Patients still paying for legacy of failures

Published 12/01/2016 | 02:30

Mr Varadkar and Taoiseach Enda Kenny can not escape their own responsibilities for the perennial trolley scandal
Mr Varadkar and Taoiseach Enda Kenny can not escape their own responsibilities for the perennial trolley scandal

It often appears that practical politics depends on a readiness to ignore certain facts while prioritising others. The problem is, if you ignore them for too long they seize up, becoming almost impossible to repair; the Department of Health is testament to this.

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Five decades of failure to adequately resource the growing needs of a swelling population, coupled with a failure to manage funds that were committed, have resulted in a situation where it no longer has the confidence of many of those who work within it, nor many of those whom it serves.

There is also an issue for the electorate. When asked, voters have consistently cited health as a priority, yet they have still tended to vote for the party that offers the most glittering giveaways.

This vicious circle has cost us as a society. Revenue that might be siphoned off for better services is given away as an inducement by successive parties in the competition to get re-elected. There have been failures at every level on health, but the wider debate on what we are honestly prepared to pay to rebuild - or even repair its infrastructure - is dodged at every turn. The deferral of the strike, and the tentative resolution of the INMO crisis, is of course to be welcomed. Yet the overall lack of confidence, resources, staff and appropriate levels of management and leadership throughout the sector, must be addressed with a degree of engagement and imagination that has so far been singularly absent.

Last night Health Minister Leo Varadkar said he expected "a deeper level of trust will develop between hospital management and nursing staff through the active implementation and monitoring of the proposals".

Mr Varadkar and Taoiseach Enda Kenny can not escape their own responsibilities for the perennial trolley scandal. Carrying on as we have done before is not an option, with an ageing population and growing dependency. Few believe that overcrowding and understaffing at our hospitals will not be incendiary issues as the election catches fire.

Bowie was the ultimate fearless renaissance man

David Bowie, Cockney rebel, and musical chameleon who broke and defined boundaries with creative abandon, has gone to take his place amongst the starmen. He was the ultimate fearless renaissance man, combining talent and innovation with an astute - but not an exclusive - eye on tapping into commercial mainstream. The famously avant-garde White Duke confounded genres and stereotypes by storming the ramparts of convention.

He toyed with sexual norms - taking on a range of personas courageously questioning, and challenging, and bringing androgyny into mainstream - deftly turning established notions of normalcy onto their startled heads.

Musically he was a magician managing to walk tall across the decades from the mid-60s right up to the weekend of his death pulling success out of the white top hat with a flourish.

Always accomplished, original, polished and effortlessly elegant, there are many performers who manage to capture the lightening of fame for a fleeting moment. But David Bowie will be remembered and revered for having always made the grade in the notoriously fickle world of show business.

Irish Independent

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