Belfast Telegraph

State of our NHS shames politicians

Editor's Viewpoint

Arguably, adequate health provision is the greatest social service that a government can provide for its people. It is one which those elected to the devolved administration at Stomont have failed lamentably to oversee and develop for more than 500 days. And virtually every day we see the result of that abdication of duty.

Yesterday we had another glaring example, when a Belfast woman had to travel to the Republic and pay for an emergency operation to save one of her eyes.

Her operation here was cancelled because of another emergency and by the time it was rescheduled later this week, she may have already lost the eye.

In today's newspaper there are examples of how the lack of a Minister of Health in Northern Ireland is affecting the health service.

We report on how the waiting list for a relatively simple, but lifesaving, heart test has grown by 5,563 in just two years.

And two people suffering from the very painful condition fibromyalgia call on the politicians to get back to work and devise new policies to deal with the condition.

If Stormont was functioning, the demand for a public inquiry into the Runwood group of care homes here would increase as staff walk out of a unit in Ballymena over their concerns for the safety of residents.

The need for local oversight of the health service is clearly evident. The problems putting pressure on the health service cannot be tackled in a meaningful way - in spite of the herculean efforts of staff to deliver quality medicine - without Stormont oversight.

The Bengoa blueprint to streamline the service and change the way it is delivered will make vital improvements, but needs ministerial approval and development.

The astonishing thing is that despite the challenges to everyday life brought about by the absence of any meaningful government, there remains a huge level of apathy among the public about what politicians should be doing.

Anywhere else, and their absence would cause outrage.

It is only when people have first-hand experience of failing services, such as those noted above, that they wonder what the politicians are doing, why they are still getting paid, and, indeed, ponder that if they cannot deal with such matters, what is the point of them anyway?

Belfast Telegraph

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