HSE’s Capital Plan is just a glitzy bandaid!






On Monday of this week An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris launched the HSE Capital Plan and on the face of it, it was all sweetness and light and everything is going ‘full steam ahead’ which is great to see and hear. However, it does not take a genius in investigative journalism to see what the real story is when you drill down a little into the reality of what is happening.

  I am certainly not going to do a hatchet job on our health service in general as there are many positive things happening and the majority of the staff who work in the service are top-class, but there are so many problems that a glitzy announcement in Dublin will not paper over the cracks.

  The reality is that the massive overspend at the Children’s Hospital will definitely impact on other HSE projects despite what Government politicians are saying. On Monday, Simon Harris announced 250 new HSE projects. It would be an interesting exercise to come back in three or five years’ time to see how many of those projects have been completed. The two new A&E Departments in Galway and Limerick are so badly needed. The planned 30 new Primary Care Centres are also badly needed but the big question is who will staff these centres?

  The reality of the Irish health service in 2019 is that there are almost 600,000 people on waiting lists. The INMO have just reported that overcrowding in our hospitals in August was the worst on record for the month. There are over 1,000 nursing vacancies in Ireland at the moment. There are 487 consultant vacancies as of the start of September and there is a chronic shortage of GPs prepared to work in rural areas. If the health service is to keep up with the rising elderly population, thousands of extra hospital beds will be needed over the next ten to fifteen years just to stand still.

  This is not just a Fine Gael problem, however. Successive Health Ministers including Mary Harney and Micheál Martin have tried and failed to fix the problems in our health service which seems to be getting worse as the years go by. The demographics are going to dictate that the service will have to expand as the number of people living longer increases so these problems are not going to go away either. In fact they are set to increase.

  Have I a solution? If I did, I would be a wealthy man, and I realise there are no easy or quick fixes but for the Taoiseach and his Ministers to gloss over the massive problems that exist with glitzy announcements from time to time is not going to provide one more bed for someone who needs it nor will not bring forward badly needed surgery for patients.

  The winter is on the way and it’s all fine and dandy if you don’t have to use the health service especially if you are a public patient. But away from Brexit it is by far the most pressing problem that the Government have to deal with on an ongoing basis.