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Readers blog: The politicians have failed on health. Time for a rethink.

We have known for over 30 years of crises in emergency departments, inequitable two-tier hospital care, and waiting list problems. 

The cause of this is failure of political leadership.

Fault for the the recent health crisis can be laid firmly at the door of our politicians’ and the political system. 

Professor John Searle at the University of California refers to political leadership as the ability to make people want to do something they would not otherwise have wanted to do.

Clearly, there has been no political party leader in the Dail in the last 30 years with this capacity.

Part of the reason for this failure is related to the difficulty of delivering reform.

The politician and philosopher Machiavelli famously stated: “There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order”.

Therefore, political leadership is essential in health care.

It is time for the political class to divest significant amounts of their power over health care.

The department of finance has far too much control over health financing and this should be devolved to the people through some form of insurance system.

Politicians should make the laws and ground rules to govern health care in respect of equity of access, financial efficiency, quality in health care and public involvement.

They should give autonomy and accountability to those delivering care in the public health system like that in the private system.

It would be a good day if the future of Health Care Committee in the Dail decided on such a policy, because politicians should recognise their failure and give others an opportunity to solve our health system problems.

Dr John Barton,

Consultant Cardiologist


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