Northern Ireland

'Cruel' public health consultation on cuts

hospital Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Public meetings will be held by the five health trusts at noon on Thursday

Asking the public to decide where the axe should fall in Health and Social Care is as bizarre as it is cruel.

It is also unprecedented.

The local service has been struggling, but this latest measure is further indication of the somewhat precarious position that the system is currently in.

While consecutive health ministers failed to make important decisions over the years, the public are being asked to make those decisions instead.

It is an incredible situation.

Turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to countless expert reports which spelt out why Northern Ireland had to change how it delivered health care has brought us to this position.

'Shocking failure'

Health trusts needed to transform how services were delivered two decades ago.

Image copyright PA

Plunging from one crisis to another is just the legacy of a lack of leadership within the health service, and especially within the political system.

Despite constant warnings from the health unions - there has been a shocking failure to address long term work force planning.

That and politicians putting votes before sense has also led to the system becoming unsustainable.

Health experts Hayes, Appleby, Donaldson, Compton and most recently Bengoa all said that Northern Ireland's health service needed to transform in order to stay afloat.

That means centralising services and considering the size of Northern Ireland makes both financial and medical sense.

All of this begs many questions. Where is the leadership? Who is being held to account? Who is in charge of the Health Service?

If the consultation process is to be true to its word, well then the public are leading the way.

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