Change the law, fire and hit pockets to end health service waiting lists

AT this stage, exposés of failure in our health service are as regular as Christmas pantomimes.

On Monday, RTÉ gave Health Minister Simon Harris his chance to play the Fairy Godmother. He, like all his predecessors, was indignant and shed, what at this stage can only be described as going-with-the-job crocodile tears. In the same dog-eared script his predecessors used he blamed the managers; the clinicians blamed the system; the unions blamed pay rates; consultants blamed shortages, insisting the lucrative distraction of private practice is not an issue. Some weeks ago the HSE warned we will have to invest many billions more to keep up with growing demand despite international assessments concluding we get below-average services for above-average funding.

Mr Harris, rattling what must be a pretty blunt sabre, warned that people who don’t deliver will be moved. In the real world that might mean something but in the public service that means being moved to, say, the Leitrim Ebola Assessment Unit until pension time. Minister after minister has complained that they can’t fire those who don’t deliver. Change the law, face down the opposition because the vast majority of people — especially those who work in it — have had enough of this shameful health service pantomime.

To paraphrase General Patton, a man who resolved far more intractable problems by confronting ineptitude: “Grab ’em by their pensions and their hearts and minds will follow.”

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