Handwringing over Christmas leave rings hollow
THE Taoiseach this week bemoaned his inability to ensure that the HSE enforce limits on staff Christmas holidays.
Yet the Fine Gael Government was elected in 2011 on a strong reform mandate – having promised to abolish the HSE, and implement universal health insurance.
One of Dr James Reilly’s first acts as Minister for Health in 2011 was to remove the HSE board and to facilitate the introduction of universal health insurance.
His UHI plans were scrapped in 2015 by his replacement, then-health minister Leo Varadkar, who said the plans were unaffordable.
The abolition of the HSE board was criticised in a report this year by Dr Gabriel Scally after he carried out an inquiry into the CervicalCheck Screening Programme.
This criticism prompted current Health Minister Simon Harris to reinstate the HSE board in order to restore public confidence in the health service. In doing so, he effectively reversed Fine Gael policy of the past seven years – bringing the issue of HSE reform full circle.
As such, at any stage in the past seven years of non-reform, Mr Varadkar – either as a Cabinet minister or as the minister in charge of the portfolio – could have suggested a change in policy to allow the government to determine holidays in the health service.
He is not on record as having sought any such policy change.
Simon Harris reversal: