OUR Health Minister, Edwin Poots, always struck me as a decent sort of chap.
He’s one of the Stormont elite who makes no secret of the importance of Faith and the Good Book in his thinking. That can be worrying but as he was elected through a democratic process and not a heavenly one we can accept his Christian outlook and to be informed by that.
The Health Department must at least be an appropriate department to be led by someone who should have a kind and compassionate heart. Life as they say is full of disappointments.
It is the Minister’s job to improve care for older people. He recognises this and has flagged up a number of initiatives and proposals which would see more care being provided outside publicly owned care homes.
Various Trusts have seen that as permission to announce their intentions to close their publicly owned care homes. That has caused fear, distress, anxiety and indignation. Older folk have been panicked. Those older folk fortunate enough to have families suffer their own panic and reflected panic from their families.
The Minister has given many interviews denying his intention to cause distress to anyone. His words would have been much more convincing had he immediately used his position to apologise and to calm and reassure the constituency of older people so badly frightened. He delegated the dirty work to his Health Trusts but he should never have delegated the responsibility.
The Minister may take much inspiration from the Good Book. There is another good book that he should pay attention to, the dictionary. To act unkindly or to cause unnecessary pain and suffering amounts to cruelty. The Minister should reflect on that.
The behaviour of himself, his Department and his Trust officials and members have combined to create an entirely foreseeable wave of fear. Maybe there was no malice but not to realise what has been done and put things right straightaway is really where the cruelty lies. Only to catch on when the politics got too tough was unforgiveable.
Christians believe in a final judgment. Edwin Poots may be judged much sooner. A frightened and spooked electorate is not a happy electorate.