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Health Changes

No Change in Health Care

It is very sickening, if you pardon the pun, to lift one of today’s (Monday August 15th) national daily Newspapers and on the front page we read that TDs’ assistants have been paid almost €400,000 in overtime payments in just 14 weeks. Then turn to Page 2 and we read that 10 hospitals don’t have a Consultant in Emergency Medicine on call 24/7 in their A & E department. Add that to the 500,000 patients waiting for treatment or an appointment and the thousands lying on trolleys each month waiting for a bed or rather, waiting for someone to treat them and we have to say – Nothing has changed but it has just got worse.


Minister Simon Harris has come up with a plan to ‘solve’ some of the problems. I, and many besides, including Prof. Michael O’Keefe, whom I know well and admire for his open attacks on the way our health services are managed, have no confidence in the plans being pushed forward by the Minister. Throwing more money at a sinking ship is just a waste of more money. Prof. O’Keefe tells us how a private hospital works in comparison to a Public Hospital. He says that the Private is run efficiently and streamlined while the Public is in chaos. I would not go as far as he does about the Private, though it is much better and runs more smoothly, but it has its own problems too – e.g. lack of staff, overworked nurses, and getting to the point where there will be waiting lists there too.

However when Gerard Robinson went into Rotherham Hospital he turned it around in months and knows that the Health Service can be changed if we had the managerial competence and the system to do what needs to be done to ‘put the patient first’. He said of the NHS – ‘that the 'collective inertia' within the system, combined with weak management, meant that the right decisions were not being taken and that senior managers indulged in too much 'blue skies' thinking and too little time motivating staff’. He continued –‘'The health service works brilliantly in so many ways, but it is failing in the sense that it is not getting the most out of huge amounts that are now being put into it. Given that there is enormous willingness among the staff, we should be able to get it right.' That sounds like what we want?? Gerry Robinson applied this system in Rotherham Hospital and within a year things were vastly changed and efficiency, openness and quality care were achieved and the patient came top of the list. Prof O’Keefe is saying the same thing but will our Minister have the courage to take it on? Cut the inordinate, extravagant, and wasteful expenditure on TDs, Senators and all their advisers, PA’s and assistants and direct it to employ medical staff, open beds and return services to smaller hospitals so that patients can get timely, efficient and quality care when they need it and employ managers who can manage in this way. I know – I expect too much.