Our Minister for Health, Mary Harney, is very anxious to make cutbacks in the health service. You see, she faces a bit of a problem. The huge expenditure required to maintain the high salaries of the bureaucrats within the HSE (Health Service Executive) is eating into the budget that was allocated to improve the Health Service. It’s definitely a case of ‘robbing Peter (the patients) to pay Paul (public servants)’. Patients are fed up waiting for the awful conditions in our hospitals to improve. Hospital buildings are crying out for investment, much of the equipment is outdated and staff morale is at an all time low. So rapid action is needed if Mary is to save face.
First we were told that our Minister is putting a freeze on the employment of new health service workers for the month of September. The fact that the health service is almost on it’s knees from poor staffing levels doesn’t enter the equation. The figures have to balance at the end of the month somehow/anyhow. Now there’s another bright idea brewing. The Minister now wants to introduce a voluntary health service. Harney wants members of the public to ‘volunteer’ their services to provide support for hospital patients. Six month’s training and you’re in! Soon the staffing bill will be minimal as the general public takes over the running of our hospitals. This should also do away with the problem of nurses wanting higher salaries to match their skills when others are seen to work for nothing. This latest idea of course, has nothing to do with the fact that our public hospitals will suffer from staff shortages once the 2-tier health system swings into place. The co-located private hospitals will undoubtedly ‘lure’ highly trained staff over to their better working conditions. This is not about improving the lives of patients, it’s purely a cost saving measure.
Well, I’ve got another idea. Mary Harney should address the real cause of the overspending in our health service. The HSE is bleeding the system dry – she needs to ‘nuke’ it completely and start again from scratch. HSE employees could choose to either vacate their positions voluntarily or to continue their service in a voluntary capacity. That should reduce the bills, no problem!