I’ve previously alluded to the vagaries of the NI political system. For now, for a variety of reasons (differing views on welfare/ allegations of corruption/ murder) it’s not working.
We have a number of Ministers with overall responsibility for the effective government of the region who are not in post. They resign their posts in protest at politics (see above), are renominated to the post by their party a few days later and promptly resign again. In out, in out, shake it all about…
Most of the time recently we have been without Ministers for ‘Enterprise, Trade & Investment’, ‘Social Development’, an actual ‘First Minister’ and, a creature previously unknown to me, a ‘Junior Minister’. However, most ire is currently being directed at our occasional Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety’. It seems our public and our media care much less about enterprise or social development than about the health service. Not only do we all need to use health and social care at some point, but it’s a huge employer. Many, many, thousands of people work in health or social care services. (Their views may have been captured by this image, stolen by me from a public service union Facebook page.)
We have long hospital waiting lists. Several reviews of services remain unimplemented. Some staff have had delays in getting paid. Nonetheless, the occasional Minister thinks it’s nonsense to think that his absence is having a negative impact on the health system. He’s not a health or social care professional and so he is correct up to a point; the system is still going on, people are being cared for, operations and treatments are going ahead. But, still. The guy at the top joins the long list of people who don’t think that ensuring we have safe, effective and timely health & social care is their responsibility.
The guy at the top leads us to believe that we don’t need a health minister. Perhaps we don’t need any of them? What can we learn from Belgium, who went without a formal government for 589 days? What games are the politicians playing now?
However, maybe Simon is just feeling overwhelmed. Being the guy at the top could be hard enough work, even if he gets most of every week
off away from the office, squabbling with the other parties about welfarecorruptionmurder.
I have a plan. A way for Simon to make a difference.
There’s something he could do when he calls into the office every so often to resign. It would make a difference to 100,000 people in Northern Ireland.
There’s something he could do, easily, to promote: patient empowerment; identifying & preventing rare disease; diagnosis and early intervention; coordination of care; research; opportunities for international collaboration.
There’s something he could do to support families affected by rare disease, currently and in the future.
There’s something he could do to promote the UK vision for rare disease ‘where no one is left behind’.
Many people- patients, academics, health professionals- worked together to develop the NI rare disease draft implementation plan. Our charity organised and lead 6 consultation events and a tweet chat to gather views, learning, and to promote responses to the draft. In January. Nine months later, we’re still waiting. The plan just needs to be signed off now, by the occasional Health Minister.
The guy at the top could make a difference, even when he’s not about much.