“If the Church does not speak out on moral issues of this nature it risks making itself redundant.”
ALICE LEAHY, Director and Co-Founder, TRUST – Health and Social Service for People who are Homeless Addressing Annual Seminar at Church of Ireland Theological College on the theme of “the urban witness of the Church”
One of the biggest problems in the health service today is that the management running the service has become totally removed from the reality of life on the front line for both patients and staff, Alice Leahy, Director and Co-Founder of TRUST said today (Sat. 17 Oct., 2009) and awarding the chief executive a substantial bonus dramatically illustrates that fact.
Addressing an annual seminar at the Church of Ireland Theological College on the theme of “the urban witness of the Church”, Alice Leahy said that if “the Church does not speak out on moral issues of this nature it risks making itself redundant.”
More than €4million was awarded in bonuses to managers across the public sector, with a staggering €1.5million going to the HSE in 2007 and we must ask, Alice Leahy said, “will this only serve to encourage managers to ignore the real needs of real people?” We have an impression, she said, that the Irish health service seems to be run on the principle that it would be more efficient if it did not have to provide treatment for people, given the dissatisfaction that exists on the part of patients and staff.
“Rewarding anyone for what amounts to successfully distancing himself from people, given the anger and dissatisfaction within the health service, on the part of many patients and staff will only ensure that the problems that exist will only get bigger. There is no denying we have a major financial crisis. However, to solve that problem, we must unite people and develop a real sense of shared purpose. At the moment, we are going in the opposite direction,” Alice Leahy said.
Describing the current management culture as more suitable for a manufacturing environment with its emphasis on benchmarks and performance indicators, Alice Leahy said that unless we adopted a management philosophy that saw the patient, and the time given to the patient, as the over riding priority in the health service nothing would ever change.
“The current management of the health service, and indeed, in the homeless and social services as well, with its complete failure to recognize that the most important thing people, and especially vulnerable people need is time, we are doomed to continue to go on repeating the mistakes of the past. If people do not get real help, they continue to keep coming back. Getting rid of people quickly may appear to save money in the short term but obviously costs much more in the long term as minor untreated problems become much more serious,” she said.
Alice Leahy went on: “We must recognize that when we make time for people we make a vital difference. We see that everyday working with people who are homeless. Indeed, if we really want an inclusive and healthy community we must make time for others. We all can appreciate the difference we can make even in our own families when we make time for our loved ones. However, as we see everyday, unless those working with vulnerable people are allowed the time necessary to really help them, they will be condemned to suffer much more in the long-term.”