Friday 19 January 2018

Dr Ciara Kelly: Health is a right - not a political football

Leo Varadkar failed to make a noticeable impact on waiting lists.
Leo Varadkar failed to make a noticeable impact on waiting lists.

Ciara Kelly

The horse-trading is still quietly ongoing post #GE2016 and the new government in whatever form it finally takes, remains an unknown quantity. Soon, however, the ministries will need to be decided. Rewards will be bestowed - or possibly punishments doled out - for those TDs who made it onto the right side of the house of the 32nd Dail.

Health - or Angola as Brian Cowen famously dubbed it; "because there are landmines everywhere" - is certainly a double-edged sword for any politician. A high- profile ministerial department that generates lots of profile and column inches - but equally a quagmire where careers flounder and even the most able politician such as Leo Varadkar failed to make any noticeable, positive impact on our abysmal waiting lists, our A&E trolley crisis, or the generally poor levels of services on offer to patients in our public health system.

It's a mess and everyone knows it. This of course means that when someone new enters the Health fray - they often adopt a grand sweeping vision to fix it - that usually involves making radical root-and-branch change from an administrative point of view. Mary Harney wanted hospitals co-located and closed down the Health boards - bringing into being the behemoth that is the HSE - which of course resulted in a thick, creamy, extra layer of bureaucracy and middle management.

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