Robin Swann to abandon health service to chase votes in South Antrim…

Robin Swann is a popular politican. He won much public respect for his steady handling of the Covid pandemic, and people respect him for taking on the poisoned chalice of health when Sinn Féin and the DUP would not touch it. Unfortunately, it looks like much goodwill towards him will soon evaporate.

Mr Swann told BBC’s Sunday Politics that once the election period begins, he would give up his seat in the Stormont Executive to canvas. While you can try to spin this as doing the responsible thing during the campaign, many see it as abandoning the health service in a crisis.

From Allison Morris in the BelTel:

Dr Alan Stout, who chairs the British Medical Association in NI said momentum cannot be lost as a result of the departure of the minister.

“Consistency and commitment is important, because it is such a big job. People in health think the minister has done a good job so far, and he has built good relations, and so that in itself in frustrating,” said Dr Stout.

“There is progress being made, but that can’t be linked to one person or to personalities.

“We need to move on and not lose momentum or the commitment to those big challenges that need to be addressed.”

Meanwhile, Professor Deirdre Heenan, an academic specialising in health, said the decision to appoint Mr Swann as Health Minister had been “a catastrophic mistake”, adding that his decision to run “has further destabilised a health and social care system on the brink of collapse”.

“When stability, consistency, a long-term vision and an unrelenting focus on the huge task ahead was desperately needed, we got a man with ambition to get elected to Westminster in the forthcoming general election,” she said.

“Proposing to fix a broken health service with one eye on putting up election posters is utterly farcical and has further eroded trust and confidence in our political system.”

I get the sense this will play out terribly on the doorsteps. If my doorbell rang and I opened it to see Robin Swann, my reaction would be why the feck are you standing here and not fixing the health service?

You can just see the headlines now: ‘While Robin Swanns around Antrim, elderly patient dies after wait 30 hours on a trolley.’

There is also the issue that with one eye on the ballot box, Robin Swann will not make any of the necessary tough decisions around health for fear of getting punished for it by the voters.

A terrible decision by the UUP. They really do know how to shoot themselves in the foot.

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