Well, we finally have our chance to talk face to face with the politicians who will be running the country and overseeing the implementation of the NCCP, under which St Luke’s is earmarked to close in 2014/2015. We need to have a rational and achievable target that is feasible and sensible, one that the new government can readily adapt and get kudos out of. I think we can take a few things as ‘given’:
1. FF will not be forming the next government and are the anti-St Luke’s anyway; we would be wasting our time lobbying them when they come a-knocking.
2. The Greens are in the same boat; gone as a political force and won’t have any influence in medium-term health policy decisions.
3. FG and Labour (both parties are pro-St Luke’s) are the likely partners in the next government; the question is though will they need other parties/independents support.
4. SF are pro-St Luke’s and will have TDs who will support our campaign in the next Dail.
So how do we maximise our efforts and bring the campaign to a successful conclusion?
My plan, which others might like to adapt, is as follows:
1. I will write out my ‘wish list’ so that it is ready to hand to the door-steppers when they call. I will be pointing out that, in the greater scheme of saving our country from bankrupcy, saving St Luke’s is but one small step towards that!
2. I will promise them a vote if they can promise me that St Luke’s will not be closed, that it will be retianed for cancer services beyond 2014 and that it will not be changed in any way other than to be augmented by St James’s/Galway/Derry/Belfast cancer services (Note: everybody can put it how the closure will affect their own areas when talking to local candidates, these ones are mine)
3. I will be EMing all candidates sending them my ‘wish list’.
4. I will be ‘Facebooking’ all my friends, asking them to re-visit this page to re-acquaint themselves with things and asking them to challenge door-stepping candidates about their position on St Luke’s. Although the page has 16,500 members, I doubt many have clicked on him since joining it.
I think that if everybody does something like I’m doing, we can prepare the ground by bringing the ‘small’ matter of St Luke’s to the attention of many potential TDs. Then, when the dust settles and we know who is in the position to change the previous government’s decision, we can lobby them to do so, perhaps through the inevitable Health Bill 2011.