I see that Mary Harney has been attacked by the religious groups over her plans for co-location in the Health Service.
The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice and the Adelaide Hospital Society say such a strategy would only serve to entrench the existing two-tier system of care.
I am a Socialist and so my basic premise for the access to Health Care is that it should always be on the basis of need and never on the ability to pay.
Co-location would be a terrible path for the Irish government to go down and ordinary people will be the ones who will suffer.
Sinn Féin were 100% correct when they said during the election that public money should be spent on public services, it should not be used to line the back pocket of some rich business developer.
Harney and the government suggest that co-location will free up 1,000 extra beds for public patients, that is just nonsense!
The major problem within the Health Care system is greedy consultants who do not stay within the 20% limit on private practice and instead treat private patients when they should be treating public patients.
The consultants and the form fillers are the groups that should be tackled in the Health Service.
Consultants should be told you either work in the public Health Service or you don't. They should incure a rate of 75% tax on any private work that they do while employed under a public contract.
The form fillers should be removed from the equation, they suck up valuable resources that should be used at the front line. There is far too much bureaucracy within the system and it needs to be tackled.
The extraordinary thing is that Ireland spends more per head on health than either France or Germany yet we do not have a Health Service free at the point of delivery, we need to be asking why?
Money is not used properly within the Health Service and the system of management is an absolute shambles, too many chiefs and not enough Indians!
The perfect example was the row over the nurses pay, in my view that was pure greed on the part of nurses. The Social Partnership is there to solve these issues and has been an effective tool that has stopped the kind of mass worker strikes that we saw in the 80's. The Nurses however held out, not all nurses only some, and so missed the boat.
Had the government capitulated to those excessive demands then you would have had every other public sector employee out on strikes as well trying to replicate the Nurses deal.
The problem within the Health Service will only be solved by making some unpopular decisions, it will mean forced redundancies for incompetent staff, it will mean reducing the number of worthless administrative staff and recruiting more workers to engage in direct client care.
From my point of view I don't think any of the political parties have the balls to make these hard decisions. I think these sorts of decisions will have to be made, the question is who will be brave enough to make them?
I remember sitting in the Roma in Dundalk and seeing a poster on the wall, it was an appeal to raise 1 Million EURO in order to buy a scanner for the Louth hospital. I remember being disgusted that despite the huge wealth in the country people still had to try and finance themselves essential medical services.
Public money should be used for the benefit of the general public. If patients wish to go private then let private hospitals acquire private land and build their hospitals there. Let them employ their own consultants on a full time basis.
The rest of us however should work on securing a first class health service free at the point of delivery and if it costs more then so be it. I personally don't object to paying more if the quality of service increases.
Co-location is an attempt by the government to deflect away from the fundamental problems in the Health Service. It's an attempt by free market capitalists to foist an American style system on the Irish people.
An attempt to further widen the inequality in health care provision so that the rich get better care and the poor do with what's left.
That is not good enough