When Minister for Health, Mary Harney, was asked for her reaction to a recent poll that said only 13% of people believed the health service had improved since she had taken over and a massive 53% said that it had got worse, she replied:
“That’s not surprising because the public perceive the health service on the basis of what they hear from programmes like yours.”
(RTE, News at One, 1st item)
This is more than just the usual cowardly political reaction of blaming the media. It is patronizing and insulting to the intelligence of Irish citizens. Effectively, Harney is suggesting that ordinary people are incapable of coming to their own independent conclusions.
As a further defence she quoted figures from another poll that found up to 90% of patients were very happy with the health service. The crucial difference here is that it was a poll of patients.
I remember around the mid 1980s when military personnel were getting more vocal about the primitive conditions in military hospitals the authorities responded by asking patients to sign a form declaring that they had received adequate care or, alternatively, outline any complaints they might have.
Not surprisingly, I never witnessed or heard of a single patient making a complaint.
The 90% positive response also reminds me of so called elections in places like Saddam’s Iraq or the North Korea of Kim Jong il.
These are situations where those in power are more interested in their own puffed up appearances rather than facing inconvenient realities – Much like Ireland in 2007.