Mary Harney has returned from New Zealand where she evidently gave some thought to coming up with another of her straw-man arguments for facing down criticism of her management of the health service. She claims she is the victim of a blame game and that in no other country would she be subject to this treatment. Poor Mary. Only it’s not a blame game, it’s known simply as being called to account for how you do your job. You know, the one we pay you to do?
In relation to the enormous backlog of X-rays requiring diagnosis at Tallaght Hospital, the Minister says that she cannot be responsible for clinical decision-making and is only responsible for policy-making. The problem with this defence is that nobody ever said otherwise. It has never been remotely suggested that the Health Minister can be answerable for a wrong call by a GP, or a fatal mistake by a surgeon.
The criticism that was actually made was that the parade of medical disasters and delays caused by underfunding of front line services and general management paralysis are all a direct consequence of the very policies she is rolling out with such ideological vehemence. It has been clear for some time that this ideology is neither practically efficient nor economic. Many (most?) of us believe that those things have never been the Minister’s concern. Rather, it seems the health service is regarded as a portal through which the commercial health industry and the cabal of vested interests currently feeding from it have access to subsidies, tax breaks and every conceivable form of monetary support in pursuance of the creation of a two-tier health service – the tragic health realities of which are becoming ever more apparent. This is the sole explanation for why spending on ‘health’ goes up while the quality of service continues to go down.
Many people were bitterly disappointed that Mary Harney was not moved out of health as a matter of urgency in the recent cabinet reshuffle. The explanation for why she was not is frightening. Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan are clearly in a thrall to the same manifestly failed ideology as Mary Harney and are in fact running the entire economy along the exact same principles: an endless supply of public money (NAMA, the banks, ‘R&D’) and obscene pay for a small corporate and civic praetorian guard at the expense of all other commercial activity, the national infrastructure and of the civilian population itself. The rest of us can go to hell, in other words.