Health service a political football yet again

The political frenzy surrounding the CervicalCheck scandal is a demonstration of all that is worst in our political system with human tragedies being used as an excuse by politicians to attack another.

The political point-scoring has done nothing for the effort to get the full truth of what went wrong, and amid the demands for sacrificial heads it is doubtful if the right lessons will have been learned.

That is why it was refreshing in the Dáil on Tuesday to hear Clare Daly berate the political parties, and the media too, for missing the point in their desire to apportion blame to others and seek advantage for themselves.

“I am sick of it,” she told Leo Varadkar during Leader’s Questions. “I could not care less if the Taoiseach was the health minister or if Deputy Micheál Martin was the health minister because it goes on. Governments are too busy staying in power to actually govern, the Opposition is too busy scoring cheap political points to actually hold the Government to account, and the media are too bloody lazy to analyse what goes on in here so the Civil Service rules, unelected and unaccountable.”

As a short summary of the problem it could hardly be bettered although it is unfair to lay all the blame on civil servants if the governments of the day won’t come forward with the kind of decisive action required.

Culture of secrecy

As Daly pointed out, the culture of secrecy stems directly from the fear of litigation, with clinical claims against the State rising from almost €1 billion to €2 billion over the past five years. When legal costs are included, this figure could probably be doubled.

That is why there is an urgent need to rethink the entire system so that patients can be given the truth as early as possible without implications for legal action one way or another.