Sunday, 15 May 2016

Another new hospital?

Now that we have an opposition in Stormont -  Eamonn McCann, obviously, not Mike Nesbitt - it would be good to see someone in politics challenge some of the spectacularly idiotic things that government, in its many forms, has been getting away with.

Like building a brand new hospital in Omagh at the cost of several hundred million pounds when there's a perfectly new and woefully underused acute hospital some 28 miles down the road  in Enniskillen. 

To call it a scandal is probably an understatement: how  the Department of Health can justify this kind of outlay on a new hospital when the health service is, by all accounts, teetering on the brink, beggars belief. 

And if you think the new Omagh hospital might be, well, necessary consider this: if you're an adult living in Fermanagh and need to get your tonsills out you will find yourself making the four hour round trip to Derry. Yes, tonsills, not a liver transplant or open heart surgery. 
Which makes you wonder, if the new Enniskillen hospital (completed 2012) is in many ways surplus to requirements, how on earth will Omagh's new hospital be any different? 

At a time when the received wisdom is that future healthcare will see fewer, but bigger hospital serving society's every more complex needs, we're putting the finishing touches to a spanking new hospital 30 miles down the road from Altnagelvin. Mad.

And it's not just in health that our governors in the North of Ireland seem to have a fixation with capital projects. In education too there is a puzzling disconnect between the seemingly endless amount of money for new buildings and what we're being told by educators in our cash-strapped schools and colleges, namely that we're skint.

Maybe I'm missing something, but while literally shedloads of money are being pumped into the massive new Ulster University campus in Belfast the same UU is being forced to cut subject choices and 'let staff go'.

Down the road in Enniskillen we have the curious case of a proposed new campus for the South West College. We have yet to establish whether or not there's actually a need for it, although it must be said that the artist's impression of a swanky new glass and metal structure not unlike Arsenal's Emirates is rather nice. 
The point is, however, that there seems to be no end of money for these flashy building projects while secondary schools within spitting distance of this new college campus are suffocating under a mountain of debt as a result of swingeing cuts to their budgets. 

Now before you start the 'different pots of money routine', education and further education are devolved to Stormont and we all know how it works - we get a massive subvention from Westminster and,at the end of the day, our 'government' decides what to do with it.

Over to you Eamonn (or whoever the opposition is).

No comments:

Post a Comment