Tuesday 21 November 2017

Leo's Buddhism won't fix the trolley crisis

Acceptance, a bit of hope and blaming the people who care seems to the be the Minister's policy on the A&E crisis, says Brendan O'Connor

HOW TRULY AWFUL: Health Minister Leo Varadkar’s sanguine approach is no longer working
HOW TRULY AWFUL: Health Minister Leo Varadkar’s sanguine approach is no longer working
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

Leo was philosophical last week. Which is one of the things we used to like about Leo. But sometimes, the very things we like about politicians can become things we don't like so much about them, when they take up a different role. Remember Brian Cowen? Cowen was a great Rottweiler in opposition. He was even a good number two. And then there was a clamour for him to be made Taoiseach. And suddenly his temperament was all wrong.

Leo's 'whole telling it like it is and being philosophical about things' was very attractive at some point. But it is becoming an increasingly unattractive look for someone who is supposed to be the Minister of a department that deals with people when they are most in crisis, a department that is falling down very badly on that job.

Leo's tone seemed inappropriate last week, as he spoke in the wake of the revelation that a 91-year-old man with Parkinson's was left on a trolley in Tallaght hospital for 29 hours. The story emerged after an outraged email by Dr James Gray, who works in the hospital, appeared in the media. Even as more appalling stories began to emerge - the Daily Mail reported how an elderly lady was sexually assaulted after she was left in a room with five men, while Deirdre O'Meara rang Anton Savage to tell him about her 96-year-old father-in-law who spent 36 hours on a trolley in CUH - Leo was sanguine about it. He thinks it's awful. Indefensible, in fact. He doesn't blame the staff. They are doing their best. He doesn't seem to blame himself either. But he does think it's awful.

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