Sinn Fein Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has described the HSE Service Plan 2013, approved today by Health Minister James Reilly, as a plan for slashing our public health services.
Describing the cutting of 40,000 medical cards as an “attack on people on low incomes”, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“This plan implements the savage cuts to public health services imposed by the Fine Gael/Labour Coalition in Budget 2013.
“It is not a service plan – it is a plan for slashing services.
“Of the total of €721 million in cuts in this plan a massive €323 million is cut from primary care. This makes a mockery of the government’s so-called reform programme with primary care at its centre.
“Minister Reilly has signed off on a plan that will deprive some 40,000 people of medical cards in 2013 and many more thereafter as the income criteria for receiving a medical card are changed. This is a further attack on people on low incomes.
“It is scandalous that the plan imposes a cut to disability services (1.2%) which is four times what was expected by the sector (.3%). This will severely affect disability services that are already reeling from cuts in previous years.
“The plan also implements the increase in the medical card prescription charges and the reduction in the monthly subsidy for medicines under the Drugs Payment Scheme.
“This plan will deepen the staffing crisis in our public health services. The plan itself admits that given the level of staff reductions in recent years and 4,000 more staff due to be cut this year, planning for services is ‘particularly difficult in 2013’. This is an understatement and the staff crisis will be compounded by the Government/HSE decision to attempt to introduce a cheap labour scheme for nurses which has already been rejected by the nursing unions.”