I don’t want Mary Harney to trip and break her leg today. I don’t want her to get a mild bout of food poisoning or to sprain her wrist or cut her hand.*
However, if any of those things were to happen to her, I hope she is brought directly to Accident and Emergency in one of Dublin’s hospitals. The one I’m in would, I’m sure, be fine.
I hope she is placed on trolley (an experience a friend of hers seemingly thought wasn’t too bad).
Whether she is then treated publicly (very unlikely) or privately (odds on), the level of care she receives from front-line professionals will be second to none.
That will be no thanks to her.
Mary Harney is presiding over an increasingly demoralised health service.
The current round of cutbacks, which she well knows are affecting patients, will be, for some, the last straw.
Soon, morale in the Irish health service will be as low as it is in the British health service. For reasons best known to herself, Ms Harney constantly compares the two when, if she had ambition or vision, she would look instead to the health services of Northern Europe.
While Ms Harney was in hospital receiving treatment for her leg or her wrist or her stomach, she would notice a few things.
Let’s, for the moment, make the daft assumption that she believes what she says about our health service and goes public.
After her day on the trolley, surrounded by drunks and druggies and overworked doctors and nurses, she would be taken to a ward which she would share with five others.
These would not be five people of her choice. They might be poor people. (They sure as hell won’t be rich people.) They might be people with drink problems. They might be people with dementia who shouldn’t be there but can’t be moved to suitable accommodation because of the cutbacks. The might, God forbid, even be voters.
She would see one, or at best two, television sets. If one of her companions hasn’t got one tuned to an Australian soap, she might get to see the Jeremy Kyle Show or Doctor Phil. (So busy are the real doctors, that she might actually get to see more of Phil than she does of them.)
The chances of her actually getting to see something she wants to see are slim.
But there’s always the radio.
Well, no, there isn’t always the radio.
Sure, there are radios built into the bedside lockers. But there are, no longer, any earphones for them.
Well, she can open the window and breathe in the air.
No she can’t. Many of them are nailed shut - illegal surely - to prevent dust from building work getting into the wards.
Depending on which ward she’s in, Mary may or may not be able to have a shower.]
If she has damaged her foot, the six inch step - yes, it is six inches I measured it - into the shower might prevent her from getting in.
But what would surely stop her, is the gap into which those wishing to have a shower have to squeeze, to get through the doors.
Whether it is politically correct to say it or not, it’s a fact. Mary Harney would not fit in most of the showers in St James’s hospital.
At least she could occupy herself on the web. She can, in fairness. If she manages to get to the cafe in the entrance hall where, for the price of a cup of coffee you get a few minutes on the web.
At least in the cafes in the entrance hall, the food is ok.
So why can’t it be ok in the rest of the hospital?
I’m pretty sure Mary wouldn’t like the food on offer in the hospital.
There is no excuse in 2007 for food to be other than tasty, appetising and nourishing.
Mary Harney seems to think the health service can be run like a budget airline. It can’t.
It won’t pay for itself. It won’t make money.
One of the primary functions of the state - it’s actually enshrined in the Constitution - is its duty to look after the citizens.
Mary Harney and her highly paid colleagues have failed to look after the citizens of Ireland on many levels.
The Health Service is only one area of complete and abject failure.
*This is a lie. I wouldn't mind if Mary Harney got food poisoning and ended up in one of the hospitals she seems to think are wonderful.