Commenting on the publication by Health Minister James Reilly of the Government’s strategic framework for reform of the Health Service 2012 to 2015 entitled ‘Future Health’, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the strategy is fundamentally flawed.
“The reform strategy of the Fine Gael/Labour Government is fundamentally flawed because it will be based on competing private health insurance companies and will represent the effective privatisation of the health services. The strategy has no basis in rights as it contains no commitment that patients will be guaranteed in law by the State to receive basic essential healthcare. Instead the strategy relies totally on regulation of the insurance industry.
“Launching the document today, Health Minister James Reilly ruled out any consideration of a State health insurance scheme, along the lines once advocated by the Labour Party. He said ‘that discussion is over’ – and this is before he even publishes the White Paper on Universal Health Insurance in 2013. It is clearly game, set and match to Fine Gael.
“This strategy document re-states the very worrying intention of this Government to extend a supposedly reformed ‘Fair Deal’ scheme to non-residential social care services. It states that social care services will not be covered by Universal Health Insurance. This could mean people having to pay for care services which they are eligible to receive without charge at present. The minister needs to clarify this as a matter of urgency.
“The document published today is short on detail for a strategy that is supposed to deliver free GP care by 2015 and universal health insurance in 2016. But in the meantime they are undermining the public health system with savage cuts which are decimating services and removing what little trust people may have in the ability of this Government to bring about real change.”