I suppose I tend to be quite confrontational when it comes to the uttering of Trade Unionists but on this occasion, I entirely with them!
Northern Ireland’s largest union says the health service has plunged into major crisis, branding the management system “not fit for purpose”. The stark warning from Unison was made as a damning report was published this week after an outbreak of pseudomonas, which claimed the lives of four babies. Among the bleak findings of the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) review was the recommendation to replace the neonatal unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital, where three babies died in the outbreak. The review stated that the Belfast Health Trust should have declared the pseudomonas outbreak sooner, and criticised a lack of communication between health officials. Unison, however, said this is just the latest in a long line of problems in every health trust in the province. Patricia McKeown, Unison regional secretary, said there is an immediate need to overhaul the management system across all the five trusts.
Patricia is absolutely right. You may recall that during the 2010 and 2011 elections, I almost stood alone as a voice criticising the deplorable management within the NHS here and forecasting that they would sacrifice front line services to protect themselves. This is exactly what is happening and yet people seem surprised about it! The need is to make management more accountable and make it slimmed down, more efficient and more effective. I believe that the change Patricia asks for is needed but that our political class is also not fit for purpose so they will equivocate and dissemble, courting good publicity whilst ensuring as little as possible changes.