31 December 2009
John Barrett's New Year's Message
As we start another year it is a good time to think about what we want to change in our own lives as well as the changes we would like to see in the wider world. Many people make New Year Resolutions only to break them in the first week or two. While we let ourselves down in our attempt to make those very minor changes, there is usually little sympathy for politicians who fail to deliver on major challenges, which require compromise from the many involved in complicated negotiations often involving representatives from many countries. In the year ahead it will take more than the action of politicians alone to deliver the change we would all like to see. From tackling the global changes to our climate to the local delivery of healthcare, we must all share in the responsibility for what has happened and what needs to happen. It is too easy to pass the buck to others, but in the future we will all have to accept our own role as part of the problem and be part of the solution.
We can demand increased resources for the NHS, but at the same time there should be personal responsibility to reduce the demand on the NHS for avoidable problems such as those resulting from drinking alcohol, smoking, excessive consumption, poor diet and lack of exercise. If we do not take action to reduce the demand on the NHS, those in need of its services will have to continue to wait in line on Fridays and Saturdays behind drunks who have been involved in a fight and then who attack the nurses at the A & E. This cannot continue.
As the sales reach their pre-vat increase climax, many are caught up in a frenzy of spending on consumer items they do not need, paid for on credit they cannot afford. If the economy is to get out of this recession it will take action by the bankers, politicians and restraint by individuals.
If we want to protect the planet, we cannot continue to use its natural resources as if there is no tomorrow. We are guardians of the planet for future generations and we should leave it in the condition we found it. That means using resources in a thoughtful way, replacing them where we can and using renewables where possible for energy generation.
If the recession is to end, if global warming and climate change are to be tackled, if the NHS and other public services are to deliver the quality of service we aspire to, we will all have to change in the year ahead, both politicians and the public. It will not be good enough to blame the politicians and expect them to deal with the problems on their own.
As the New Year arrives, I hope 2010 will provide an opportunity for everyone to think carefully about what they can do to play their part to make the changes we all need to see.
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