Hand­wring­ing over Christ­mas leave rings hol­low

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - By Ro­nan Stew­art

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:

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