Health committee bickering won’t help clear waiting lists

Health committee bickering won’t help clear waiting lists

Watching from Ireland as discussions in the British parliament become more colourful every day has been entertaining, but we got a taste this week of watching Irish officials engage in spats of their own, and it was not so much fun.

The Oireachtas health committee met on Wednesday to discuss oversight and progress in the Sláintecare reform programme, mainly hearing from Robert Watt, secretary-general at the Department of Health, and Paul Reid, CEO of the HSE. Tense exchanges ensued.

“In terms of the combative nature of my answers, that’s a trait,” said Mr Watt. “You love or hate it, nothing I can do about it really now.”

“It’s not a very endearing trait,” was the response from Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway.

“Apologies for that. If you don’t like it, can’t do anything about that I’m afraid,” the official went on.

“No, we don’t” was the final comment in that round.

You could only imagine anyone on a years-long waiting list for hospital treatment in Cork or Waterford shaking their heads in despair as they watched. Access to healthcare is among the most serious problems facing the State. At last count in January, around 17% of the population, adults and children, were on lists.


This was published in the Irish Examiner on February 17 2022 Health commiteee bickering won’t help clear waiting lists


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