Friday, October 12, 2007

Reba's Health Woes

NSW Health Minister Reba Meagher has been under intense pressure and media scrutiny over problems in the NSW hospital system. Royal North Shore Hospital (RNS) has been a constant problem since a pregnant woman miscarried in the emergency waiting room toilet became known about 2 weeks ago. Yesterday, there were reports about missed cancers and delayed x-ray reports at Liverpool Hospital.

NSW Premier Morris Iemma is supporting his minister, despite calls for a parliamentary inquiry from the Opposition. Mr Iemma will resist such an inquiry for a number of reasons:
  • Mr Iemma is a former Minster for Health
  • party factionalism
  • personal friendship
  • the mere fact that the Opposition wants an Inquiry
  • the total Health budget is essentially determined by Mr Iemma (as Premier) and Michael Costa (as Treasurer). Neither want to be called to give evidence.
There probably should be a Parliamentary Inquiry: it is an important step to determine what is actually wrong and, perhaps, recommend ways to fix it. It would also be one way to ensure accountability and responsibility from our State politicians. Politics will determine that there isn't one.

In the meantime, Reba Meagher will be accountable through media scrutiny and analysis. They seem to hang on every nuance, inflexion and facial expression. Some time after the Federal election, Morris Iemma might decide on a Cabinet reshuffle. Perhaps Reba Meagher will move to a ministerial position more suited to her talents. At this stage of her career, Health seems to have been too much of a challenge.