What do we do about the Irish Health Service? The HSE is in crisis, it could be said. Our health service is not fit for purpose, problem after problem in our health service appearing each year.
In 2016, a trolley crisis where patients were lined up in corridors in our A&E departments in every hospital, waiting for treatment, the numbers counted every day on our national airwaves. The situation remains unsolved to this day.
2017 we had the failure of Cervical Check care system where the scans were misread, mistakenly giving the wrong result, and some scans due to time delays were not readable by lab technicians.
In 2018 we decided after a 14-year delay to build a state-of-the-art children’s hospital in Dublin, on state owned land on the grounds of St James’ Hospital. The cost of the build in 2012 was agreed and estimated at 450 million Euro. Now that the build is underway the price has jumped to 1.7 billion. This equates to 6,500 per square metre, the most expensive hospital ever built. This would not happen in the private sector. No accountability even from minister Harris.
Now in 2019 we have the nurse and frontline soft strike The demand in pay terms is 12% Nurses starting pay in 2019 is 29,300. This represents 3,000 less than their pay scale in 2008. The cost of peace in this pay claim would cost the public purse 300 million at a time when only 1 in 4 frontline jobs are being filled as they arise. These vacancies are filled by agency staff at a cost of 1.2 million per week.
But all is not lost, the cost of the new children’s hospital is now going to be audited by consultants in the private sector to examine where the overrun in cost has come from. These consultants are only charging 450 thousand to answer the question. In 2018 the health budget was 15.5 billion. But the overrun cost by year end was 700 million. We can only wonder where the budget will finish for 2019, even allowing for the extra 1 billion euro that was given in the 2018 budget.
Now kicking and screaming we are in 2019. We all take a look at where we are in our lives and what promise 2019 holds for us. We worry about the speed our respective lives are running at and then our bank balances.
On January 2nd 2019, when we all reluctantly went back to work, the first thing we noticed was the change in the hospitality V.A.T. rate, from 9% to 13.5%. Reflecting on our first cup of tea or coffee of 2019, the standard “take away” cup of tea has gone from €1.50 to €2.00, a 33% rise, the standard cup of coffee has gone from €2.00 to €2.25 a 12% rise. V.A.T. only accounts for 4.5%. Those of us who need a “ take out cuppa”, eat out, or just buy a sandwich, or the average three coffee each day at work, question the wisdom of our government to impose this extra charge on the common people.
The tourist, and the Bed and Breakfast customer are a sector that has created seventy thousand jobs extra in five years. The tourism and hospitality industry account for 235 thousand jobs in 2018, with a tax take for our state of 466 million from this sector.
Now Paschal our Finance Minister expects to collect an extra 66 million euro in tax for 2019. Those of us who work in retail or hospitality or in small time business, know only too well that with a 30% rise in the cost of insurance in 12 months, now the V.A.T. rate of 4.5%, gas 7%, electricity 9% and 50% of us getting an increase in the Commercial Rates, Paschal’s figures may need to be adjusted because there is a reason we live and work in the shadow of the “Hidden Heartlands”.
As we all look on at the Brexit debacle, the 31st March is getting very close and no deal is in sight, the British Prime Minister has lost another vote with M.P.s in the Parliament, the date next week will be the crucial vote. Will it be the 3rd time lucky or unlucky for Theresa May?.
We live in ever changing times.