If anyone should have empathy with ex Health Minister David Clark this week, it is ex-minister Judith Collins.
She was forced to resign by a prime minister shortly before an election because her continued presence in the midst of yet another furore involving herself was damaging her party.
As Collins spelled out in her memoir this week, John Key had made it clear unless she resigned, she would be sacked but there was potentially a way back to a ministerial post.
Key did not feel protected by the huge lead National had over Labour at the time.
The levels of ministerial competence between Collins and Clark may be vastly different, in Collins' favour, but the circumstances were not dissimilar.
Ardern did not feel protected by a large lead over National. And she wanted Clark to resign rather than requiring her to sack him.
In the end, he may have been persuaded by self-preservation; if Ardern had had to sack him, there would be no way he would be considered for a future ministerial post.
If he had held out for another two days, she would have been forced to sack him anyway over the incredible privacy breach of Covid-19 patient details, revealed in the Herald.
At least that will be in the hands of his competent replacement, Chris Hipkins, to deal with.
Despite the refusal of many in the public to consider Bloomfield to be guilty of anything but perfection, it will raise legitimate questions about responsibility and accountability.
The privacy breach will mar that fresh start Ardern was looking for with a new minister in charge. The reality is that just because the portfolio is under new management, the problems won't go away.
Ardern had a deadline to get the Clark problem resolved, by the party's election-year Congress this weekend.
While Covid-19 has seen the event scaled down to virtual meetings on Saturday and a leader's rallying speech on Sunday, Ardern could not credibly get to the stage with Covid-19 management front and centre of Labour's campaign, and have David Clark at her side.
The fact is, it was not just National calling for Clark's head.
Labour supporters had lost confidence in him and wanted him to go.
Ardern's loss of ministers in a first term is now on a par with Key. Ardern has lost Clare Curran, Meka Whaitiri and David Clark.
Key lost three in his first term, Richard Worth, Pansy Wong and Phil Heatley, although Heatley was later reinstated.
That is why National leader Todd Muller, for all his criticism of Ardern over Clark this week, has steered away from any suggestion Ardern has had too many overboard. His argument is a couple of more should have gone as well.
The allocation of Health to Chris Hipkins, however, reinforces an effective plank of National's attack on the Government a body devoid of talented ministers that is run by three people – the corollary to the graphic description of "17 empty chairs" at the Cabinet table.
Actually, in terms of Labour, it is more like 10, although it is unfair to say the others are devoid of talent.
Labour now has 15 in Cabinet and six in its A team: Ardern, Grant Robertson, Hipkins, Megan Woods, David Parker and Andrew Little.
They are the only ministers, both capable and without much baggage, who could possibly have been in contention to take over Health at such a fraught time, amounting to about a third of Labour's ministers.
There is no doubt National had a few more in its A team, but not in percentage terms - about eight out of 20 in cabinet or 40 per cent, who would have been capable of similar challenges.
Hipkins was the best choice, despite already having Education, State Services, Ministerial Services, and being Leader of the House.
He is a clever minister, deceptively so because of his youthful looks. But as previously noted by me, he is an excellent minister not only because he has political smarts but because he knows how to get the best of the public service. He makes things happen.
He served his apprenticeship as a political adviser in the office of Trevor Mallard, who was one of Helen Clark's most effective ministers and who knew the worth of the State Services portfolio as a means of keeping an eye on every corner of government.
Unfortunately Ardern (and Little before her) let Mallard set his ambitions too low, as Speaker, and he would be far better as an experienced minister in the Ardern Government as would Ruth Dyson have been as well.
Hipkins will be a capable caretaker. He certainly could not continue to have both Education and Health after the election, if Labour is returned.
On the face of it, it might be better for Woods to take over health, with her background in science.
But with a massive reform agenda required in Health and the implementation of the Heather Simpson review, Hipkins might be best qualified. He has overseen many reviews, known what to shelve, and known what to implement.
Ardern does not have the luxury of speculating who would have Health post-election, except to rule out Clark ever getting it again.
The fact Clark eventually resigned means he may have a smidgen of a chance of getting a job outside Cabinet as Associate Minister for Statistics - although it would take a lot for him to regain the public's confidence.
Judith Collins not only returned to Cabinet, she has largely been rehabilitated in the public's eyes.
One difference, however, is we are unlikely to see a book in six years' time unloading about how unfairly he had been treated by Ardern.