HSE It’s Management Stupid. Or is it?

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Warranties expired! New facilities left idle! More mind-boggling news about the crisis in Ireland’s health service.More evidence has to come light suggesting that when it comes to incompetence the HSE management bosses are down there with the very worst. In a letter dated Feb 28th 2008, Chris Luke, a consultant at Cork’s city centre Mercy Hospital complained bitterly about the predicament of the newly built Emergency Department at the hospital which – you guessed – has not yet opened. The letter (reproduced here) stated: “It is now twelve months since our splendid new facility was completed, following a remarkable partnership between hospital staff and builders. Tragically, I believe the warranty for the unit has now officially expired, even before we got to move into the building”.

The crux of the issue, highlighted in the letter, is that the new unit is not up and running because the HSE will not pay for staff to commission and operate the new facility. As a result, despite being ‘finished and fully equipped’, it has lain idle for the entire year. In his letter, Chris Luke drew attention to the fact that apart from this crazy and wasteful situation, it is now the case that the new facility has also exhausted its warranty period – from both the builder and the equipment suppliers. Who, you might ask, will end up paying the bills when inevitably problems are detected once the facility and equipment are put into use? You guessed right again – the public purse will have to cough up for the incompetence.

One obvious explanation for this debacle is that the HSE management are lacking in basic organisation skills (to put it mildly). For example how long does it really take to get staff into a brand new department clearly much in need? Have they heard of the concept known as ‘advanced planning’ or the term ‘planning ahead’ or even the phrase ‘looking down the track’? One wonders. Why has it taken a whole year and the unit is still not open? Incompetence or...?

Actually the explanation is tragically more obvious and more basic than you might think. It’s not really about organisational ability at all. It’s much more likely to be about accounting and financial considerations. The HSE/Mercy is holding back on getting the new Emergency Dept up and running in the Mercy because it’s trying very hard to keep down costs – for its Government bosses. This is the probable explanation for why this wasteful and utterly incompetent situation has arisen in one of Cork’s main hospitals. Yet another example of the real priorities of Harney and Co. And, yes, yet another perfect example of why we must fight to change this crazy situation!

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