Last night, Labour’s motion to reform the HSE were voted down by Fianna Fáil, the Greens and the PDs. Minister Harney was present for most of the debate and defended the HSE’s slow moving reforms by explaining that it was merely in its infancy.
The proposals would have sought to establish clear lines of authority in the HSE, made the Minister for Health and Children more accountable to the Oireachtas and implemented parts of the HIQA report into the Rebecca O’Malley case.
The health service is a subject which is brought up again and again in the Seanad, with members complaining of bureaucracy and that the HSE is an impenetrable organisation. It was a pity, therefore, that the government side of the house voted against the Labour proposals. I have no doubt that the complaints about the HSE from government senators will continue.
Below, you will find my speech from last night.
It is my pleasure to second this motion and welcome again the Minister for Health and Children to the House. I am interested to hear her response and those of our colleagues opposite in respect of the proposals we are bringing forward.
I will repeat a challenge I threw down to the colleagues opposite yesterday. Hardly a day or week passes without one or other of our colleagues opposite coming into this House and quite correctly criticising an aspect of the health services that has come to their attention. Time and again they make the point about the system being dysfunctional and there being a lack of clarity in terms of responsibilities and management lines. They express their frustration in this House in respect of particular problems that arise and, more seriously, the inability to obtain clarity and answers to genuine issues which arise.
The picture inevitably painted by colleagues on all sides of the House is of an almost Kafkaesque system which is impenetrable to public representatives, to say nothing of members of the public or citizens who seek to make sense of it. The frustration people have in trying to make sense of it has been echoed at the highest level in Government, as we know. A number of the Minister’s colleagues have reflected this in recent months.