Fixing the health service - Veto is blocking health recovery

ONE of the standard deflections in our parliamentary culture is the schoolyard put-down thrown across the Dáil chamber at an opponent demanding change: “Ye were in power long enough, why didn’t ye fix it? Why should we do it now?”

As this administration, in one form or another, approaches the seventh anniversary of its ascent to power that argument has lost a bit of its thump and an election may be needed to revitalise it.

Nevertheless, a minor version of it surfaced when at an “emotional” meeting in Leinster House, former health minister James Reilly argued that the law should be changed so HSE managers who fail to properly perform their duties could be fired.

His successor Simon Harris has threatened a less convincing version of that sanction.

He has suggested that they might be moved, more or less drawing the sting from the wasp.

What is amazing is that they cannot be and that there is even a debate about enacting such legislation.

It is amazing too that such a basic proposal is confined to the HSE and not to the wider public service.

Just as President Trump dismisses critical analysis as fake news some of those who work in the public service would dismiss this reform as the standard anti-public service tirade.

Not so, but it is rather a plea that the sectional protectionism that is doing such harm to our public life be ended.

Without this option, one hopefully hardly ever used, how can our public service be remade?


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