Friday, 4 June 2010

Careful with your care

NORTHERN Ireland has long had a health and social care system envied by many in the rest of the UK and the Republic.

Hospital care integrated with personal social services and care in the community; and hospitals dotted throughout the country.

But even before the economic downturn there were ‘rationalisations’ such as the merger of the Fermanagh and Tyrone hospitals’ acute care services.

Now it seems we’re all going to have to get real about what we can expect. The A&E departments of Mid-Ulster and Whiteabbey Hospitals are to be axed and it is likely that one of Belfast’s major hospitals – the Mater – is to be downgraded.

At the same time, the Minister for Health has managed to find a potential wee corner of the Royal Victoria Hospital site for a new maternity unit. By 2013, mothers may be able to deliver babies at the top of the new Critical Care building, rather than amidst the crumbling edifice that is the Jubilee Maternity Hospital…but the full development of a Woman and Children’s facility ain’t happening anytime soon.

One has to suppose that as the bigger spender of all government monies, health would take a hit, but come on people, it’s your fault!

You are too fat, smoke and drink too much and let’s not even mention your fast food eating habits.

If you were to get healthy we would not need all these damned expensive acute services…but hold on a moment! That means you’d live longer, and eat up a disproportionate amount of health and social care spending with hip replacements and nice wee comfy chairs in the nursing home.

But, scanning around the members of our legislative assembly we should be gratified that they seem determined not to be a burden on the health care system in later years: bulging bellies, swollen jowls are the order of the day amongst several members. Other members get themselves so worked up about the health budget that one fears that soon Assembly staff will need to have CPR skills to hand in case a red faced rant turns into a coronary.

Such rants do all seem to be brought on by cuts in health services…sorry we said cuts when we meant efficiency savings. Euphemisms are us!

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