Indefensible Health Cut Backs


Wage increases were handed to the top-brass while ordinary health workers and the public were faced with cut-backs, lay-offs and recruitment freezes. It's clear that the politicians, the powerful HSE bureaucracy and the hospital consultants will continue to look out for each other while ordinary people suffer.

Despite being responsible for the Health Services Executive running a deficit of €245m, Brendan Drumm, the CEO of the HSE, which runs the Irish Health System, was handed a bonus of €80,000. Nice work if you can get it.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the handsomely paid consultants were offered a new contract that would see their salary rise to €216,000 for a mere 39 hours work a week! Of course that wasn’t enough for the consultants. They plan on rejecting this offer because they might have to work the occasional night-shift – something many workers are well used to without such perks.

At the same time, on Wednesday, 19th September the HSE announced that the contracts of 30 agency nurses would not be renewed in Sligo General Hospital. The statement made no reference to the impact on services of these cuts. Many areas will be affected - clinics will not be held and waiting lists will grow.

Also on Wednesday, The Minister for (Ill-)Health, Mary Harney, confirmed that Ennis General Hospital would lose its 24-hour Accident and Emergency service. Instead a consultant-led A&E service will be available at the hospital with limited hours of operation.

If that wasn’t enough, it was reported that maternity patients were being sent to hotels because of a lack of beds in the hospital. What a waste of resources and a lack of proper treatment for the patients. Is this what we pay taxes for?

This blatant contrast should wake us all up to the real reasons for the problems in the Irish Health System. We need a country-wide campaign uniting patients and health workers that demands system wide change. Patients groups and health workers should reach out and build such a campaign with the aim of fundamental, radical change. Only a united campaign that attacks the root cause of the problems in the health service, namely the excessive power of consultants and the HSE and the right-wing privatising agenda of Mary Harney and the government, can deliver a health service that people in Ireland deserve.

This article is from Workers Solidarity 100 Nov/Dec 2007

PDF of Workers Solidarity 100