Harney's legacy far from positive
Published 30/01/2011 | 05:00
Sir -- There have been many critiques in the media of Mary Harney since the minister resigned. I have read them carefully and have noticed that there are many in the political field who have some praise for her, but there are notably very few health professionals or patient groups who share this view.
There are some positive things that the minister did achieve in my view. The care that patients receive in our hospitals is still excellent even if waiting times for treatment remain far too long and trolley counts remain horrendous. The free medical cards for the over-70s and the cervical vaccine for girls were important steps taken by this minister. The older generation are the ones most likely to suffer from chronic diseases which require regular intervention and supervision and the free medical card allowed these patients to access this care without any financial worries. The introduction of the vaccine is vital in protecting girls and women from cervical cancer which can lead to over 100 deaths a year in Ireland. It should be noted though that it took considerable and inspiring lobbying by our older generation to ensure their benefits were not lost and considerable political pressure brought to bear to ensure the vaccine went ahead.
The legacy of this minister will not, however, be positive in so many ways. I have seen criticism of many policy decisions by the minister in the media this week but there is, of course, one key government decision that stands out to the parents and children of Tallaght and its surrounding areas. The disgraceful decision on the location of the new children's hospital is symptomatic of all that has gone wrong under this minister's watch.