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A Centre of Excellence

I suppose I am not alone in finding the “centre of excellence” phrase new. But am I alone in feeling the phrase is, somehow, a reproof?

It has overtones of the concept of a new year’s resolution. That concept has universal approbation (grouches excepted), brooking no dissent on the desirability of the idea of such resolutions. It also invokes a notion of “the norm” that is somewhat (mistakenly, I say) exclusionary. I have in mind the near certainty that Josef Stalin, or indeed, George W. Bush, never did or do make new year resolutions or ordered the creation of a centre of excellence.

I suggest the reason for this has nothing to do with their characters; it has to do with the fact that neither of them is (or was, in the case of Uncle Joe) a businessman. (Bush tried his hand at business but he was not a businessman).

The phrase is a stroke of dubious, comparative advertising genius and essentially, only a business consultant’s faddish phrase. After all, in what field do we establish a “Centre of Mediocrity”? Or a “Centre of the Shoddy”?

It collaterally depreciates possibly perfectly serviceable institutions. Or, given the current use in Ireland, it brilliantly distracts attention from institutions which are far from serviceable like, reputedly, Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Drogheda, as seen HERE and HERE.

Who ever aspired to have a hospital that was not excellent?

The real drawback of the “centre of excellence” phrase is its avoidance of consideration of what we have, in favour of what we, by implication, have not.

There is abundant evidence that hygiene in hospitals is poor. See HERE and HERE.

Here is a quote relating to Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Drogheda.

On the ‘Rate my Hospital’ website, patients or their relatives are asked to rate hospitals on a scale of one to five under a wide range of headings, including car parking, cleanliness, quality of care, catering and many other areas.

The Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda scored an average of 2.39 (48%) under hygiene among the 369 people who completed surveys on services at the hospital while Mallow scored an average of 4.20 (84%) among the 49 people who completed surveys on it.

Note the reference to St Columcille’s Hospital in Loughlinstown, Co. Dublin. This hospital and its suspect hygiene has obliquely featured in a previous post HERE.

In relative terms, fixing hygiene problems is cheap. Very little technology or new infrastructure would be needed. The Dublin County Coroner believes the appointment of a microbiologist in St Columcille’s Hospital in Loughlinstown, Co. Dublin would avoid the situation where he, the coroner, encounters the consequences of a hygiene deficit in the hospital, but it is not obvious that such an appointment is absolutely necessary. After all, we would hardly expect the microbiologist to go about actually cleaning the hospital.

The “centre of excellence” phrase has one merit; it draws attention to the centre. The centre is the Government. The Government is accountable for what is wrong with the Health Service. (The Irish Constitution, Article 28, 4, 1 and 2).

4. 1° The Government shall be responsible to Dáil Éireann.
2° The Government shall meet and act as a collective authority, and shall be collectively responsible for the Departments of State administered by the members of the Government.

This is the legal position.