Today is the day that the Dáil debates a motion of ‘no confidence’ in our Minister for Health for her handling of the health service. They have it all wrong – it’s not about Mary Harney – what we need is a proper debate on the way forward for our health service.
Whatever way you look at it, the Irish health service is in melt-down. For far too long the “ah, sure it’ll do” mentality has been allowed to continue and now the cracks have really begun to show. Every week another story emerges about a failing in the system and it’s likely that what we’ve seen is only the tip of the iceberg. How many more lives are to be lost before the penny drops that our health service is letting us down? There is no doubt that heads should roll for mistakes made but this is not just about accountability – the whole system is in disarray and we need agreement on a plan to put it right.
We’ve all heard about the opposition faced by the Dept of Health and the HSE in their efforts to sort out the problems in the health service. Mary Harney was a brave (many might say foolish) woman to take on the job – she’s proved her worth in politics over the years and let’s face it, as long as Fianna Fáil remain in power we don’t have much choice. However if progress is to be made, we need to take the politics out of health. It’s patently clear that as long as there are vested interests in the running of the service, it doesn’t stand a chance. It appears that the majority of people in this country are happy to sit back and allow politics to determine the future of our health service. Almost everyone is in agreement that a 2-tier health system is not the way forward and yet we continue to allow our government to push forward a strategy of co-located hospitals with an emphasis on private healthcare insurance. Studies of successful healthcare practices in other countries have clearly demonstrated that a single-tier healthcare system based on a universal health insurance scheme is the way forward. This issue is crying out for debate and yet the opposition’s only priority appears to be one of accountability.
The health service holds all our lives in it’s hands. Irish patients deserve equity of care and a better healthcare service. The time has come for Irish people to wake-up to the reality of what’s happening before it’s too late. The late Susie Long, a cancer patient, did her utmost to bring about change by highlighting the inequalities in the service. Sadly, the system failed Susie but we owe it to her memory to unite to become a force for change and to continue her fight for proper healthcare reform. It’s become abundantly clear that we cannot rely on our government to do this for us.