Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Covid-19: New Measures: Statements
Michael Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
After one of the longest lockdowns anywhere in the world, compulsory mask-wearing for almost 22 months and the highest vaccination rates anywhere, why are Covid numbers so high right now? So far, neither the Government nor the NPHET experts have answered this question in a truthful and sincere manner. The Government was given time and space, through lockdowns and restrictions on people's freedoms, to ramp up capacity in our healthcare system but it failed to do so. That is shameful and bordering on criminal, especially in light of the billions of euro of extra resources provided to the Government over the past 18 months or so. That money is not falling out of the sky. It is our taxpayers' money. The Minister for Health and the CEO of the HSE have failed completely in their duties. The Taoiseach has failed and the Government has failed. The Irish healthcare system is completely broken, despite spending the highest amount of money of any European or OECD country per head of population on healthcare. If such failings occurred in the private sector, the board and the CEO would be sacked with immediate effect. Here, under this Government, there is no accountability, no delivery based on outcomes for the patient and no transparency. Ireland has the least efficient healthcare sector in the world. This is due to the approach of the bureaucrats who currently govern the country. They are not interested in patient outcomes but, rather, in controlling administration budgets. They were given the power to do so under a system originally established by the current Taoiseach, Deputy Micheál Martin, when he was Minister for Health. The system has failed our people and our hardworking hospital staff, who I thank and compliment for what they are doing. It has failed to put the needs of patients front and centre.
Under the HSE system, the bureaucrats and the middle managers do not care if money can be spent better. They choose instead to manage the devils we know rather than those we do not. We are throwing money at the health service but we are not getting proper management and, to be honest, it is the Minister's fault. He is responsible. He has been given massive powers and a massive budget and he has failed to deliver proper healthcare. He has failed completely in his role. Time and again, we in the Rural Independent Group, along with the leader of our group, Deputy Mattie McGrath, have made very sensible proposals and suggestions, which at all times the Minister chose to completely ignore. I do not know why he did this. It is a case of the Minister's way or no way and his way so far has failed. In life, all a person can do is their best but, unfortunately, with regard to this issue, the Minister's best is not good enough.