Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Poots to be admired as he juggles a cherished budget

Fresh eyes are what Edwin Poots promised to bring to the Health Service. He has also shown a willingness to make hard choices - not dodge them - and that is to be welcomed.

Few of us like health cuts. Every area seems vital. But, in an era of reduced budgets, a minister has a duty to balance the books.

Michael McGimpsey, the last health minister, made a brave and eloquent case for more funds - and got some.

However, at some point, the time comes when a minister has to cut his cloth and work with what is there.

Although he is on the religious right of the DUP, Mr Poots is an independent mind and a creative thinker.

As sports minister, he backed the Maze stadium plan when it was not a popular thing to do in DUP circles. He lost the ministry at the time, but his belief in the importance of the project has been vindicated by the failure of Northern Ireland to attract any Olympic teams so far.

Nothing is sacred. Even after all possible efficiencies are squeezed out of health administration, there is still a shortfall. Our need for individual hospitals, A-amp;E units and nursing places all have to be weighed against each other. It is a bad job, but Mr Poots just might be the man to make the best of it.

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