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A final opportunity to rebuild trust on a solid foundation

Nobody is over the moon about this. Doctors are expecting, although not hoping, the other side will renege, steeling themselves for yet another round of negotiations. It is an attitude born from experience. Long. Bitter. Experience.

“We are warning the HSE and the Department not to overestimate the support they have received for these proposals.”

That was IMO Industrial Relations Director Steve Tweed’s blunt statement to the powers that be.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar’s assessment that the deal will keep graduates here and attract consultants to return seems too optimistic, especially given the complete lack of trust doctors have in the HSE.

Time is needed. Time, and above all, for the State to hold to its side of the bargain.

While the the ballot was passed, 40 per cent of the voters were not convinced. This may be the State’s last chance to get this right.

The next few months will be an exercise in baby steps as the HSE and the Department seek to regain the trust of doctors. And after six years of broken promises, and ill-considered moves such as the 30 per cent cut, it will be an uphill slog.

Lost opportunity

The Government u-turn on alcohol sponsorship for sporting events has drawn criticism from both the opposition benches and health charities. The RCPI’s position on the matter is long established, with Prof Joe Barry saying in 2013 that in the future, such sponsorship will be seen as “crazy”. Alcohol Action Ireland was highly critical of the move. To it, placing “the existing voluntary code of sports sponsorship on a statutory footing will do more harm than good”.

“The medical and public health experts in Ireland are all agreed on this issue and yet their expertise and evidence is challenged by vested interests with no medical or public health expertise,” its CEO Suzanne Costello said.

The toll alcohol misuse takes in Ireland is a matter of record. The banning of sponsorship of this nature would have sent a clear message that the State is committed to tackling this problem.

Sadly, this is yet another lost opportunity.

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