I am cautious about writing too much about the Health Sector as I have three clients in the area. However, as a general point about the state of our politics, it is clear the Donaldson Report was a truly exceptional piece of work – and yet it was also a complete waste of £120,000 or so.
Sir Liam Donaldson has a well earned reputation as a leading UK expert in the field. Fundamentally his team noted, correctly, that media scrutiny and political needs mean the system is constantly in crisis mode, wondering where the next paralysing “inquiry” is going to come from – yet no one is paying attention to the real issue, namely the overall system.
The problem is that what it contained was utterly unfeasible politically. We need also to face the fact that when we say “politically unfeasible”, what we mean is voters will not tolerate it, even if they know it is the right course of action in the long run.
As my fellow blogger in Dublin Jason O’Mahony has pointed out, we should be absolutely clear what this means. It means any attempt to close a hospital (as we saw in Bangor recently) will be opposed by all local representatives even when they know maintaining a hospital with a dearth of expertise means condemning people to long waits, inexpert care and potentially early death.
If we wished to provide high quality care and extend life expectancy, as Donaldson points out, we would need to close such hospitals and instead extend Health Centre opening hours and improve transport provision to big hospitals containing all the expertise we need. There is zero chance of a single elected representative supporting that position, even though it is a matter of life and death and no one seriously disputes it!
Frankly, Donaldson’s is just the latest in a series of “Reviews” no politician is prepared to lead on, and no voter is prepared to tolerate – even though they all say the same evidently sensible things. The amount of money being wasted on a fundamentally inefficient Health system (and on Reviews into it) is truly shocking – but we the voters are the ones determined for it to stay that way!
Give it a read – what do you think?!