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Our Health Minister is playing a dangerous game

Published 12/10/2015

LIAM Clarke wisely cautions (DebateNI, October 8) that the Health Minister "is the easiest point of attack. And it only takes some disaster in the health service for things to become critical".

Unless steps are quickly taken to reduce hospital waiting lists, it seems inevitable that some patients will get worse and others succumb to their illness while waiting for treatment.

I don't think anyone would question the minister's right to resign his position. The minister may be right to assert that his own presence, or absence, has no effect on the delivery of health provision.

However, the problem appears to stem from the process of repeatedly resigning and being re-appointed, which gives the appearance of wilfully blocking, impeding, or preventing others from stepping in to help those on hospital waiting lists.

Let me use a gedanke - a thought experiment - to illustrate a point. If person A witnesses a traffic accident and refuses to provide assistance to the injured parties, then although we might find their actions despicable, there is little consequence for person A.

However, if person A wilfully acts to block, impede, or prevent others from going to their assistance, then the question must be whether the actions of person A contribute to the demise, or injury, of those involved in the traffic accident.

In the real world, the question then is whether some patients, or their relatives, will assign some blame to the Health Minister and his department for their own suffering, or loss, because of their actions.

At this point, ministerial immunity, or protection from prosecution, may well be tested through the courts.

Either way, current dissatisfaction with the DUP's tactics means that their MLAs should update their CVs ready for the job market.

BERNARD J MULHOLLAND

Belfast

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