Speaking in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD said proposed health cuts will have devastating consequences for seriously ill patients by undermining frontline care.
Mr Adams criticised Health Minister James Reilly for bypassing democratic scrutiny of the HSE Service Plan by the Oireachtas by delaying its publication until the last sitting week of the year.
Details of the Plan were leaked before the Dáil had sight of it, and before it could be discussed by the Health Committee and Mr Adams said that the first time any TD would get to discuss it is was when it will already be a reality for long-suffering patients.
He said Government spin that health cuts, including cuts to medical cards, will be less than previously signalled only made people more cynical.
Mr Adams drew the Taoiseach’s attention to the case of Merryn Lacy, a four-year-old girl from Donabate who is fighting Stage 4 Neuroblastoma— a rare form of children’s cancer, and currently undergoing chemotherapy. Yesterday Merryn had her application for a medical card rejected.
The Sinn Féin Leader also raised the case of two-year-old Kate McShane from Drogheda who has Downs Syndrome and requires long-term hospital care but who is also denied a medical card.
He gave a cautious welcome to additional money allocated for the bilateral cochlear implant programme in the HSE Plan. However, he said it was important that we see the detail.
Mr Adams said:
“The only valid test of the HSE Service Plan will be if it results in these citizens getting the treatment and service they are entitled to. That is their right.
“Taoiseach, can you assure parents of seriously ill children and other very sick citizens that the HSE Service Plan will mean they will get the treatment they deserve?”
Saying the Government’s austerity policies had deeply undermined the health service he added:
“Despite the sterling work of health workers our health service is not fit for purpose. The cuts you are introducing will seriously undermine frontline care.
“If these cuts are less than previously signalled, it begs the question of where the Minister pulled the original figures from in the first place?
“Any civilised society should be judged on how it treats its most vulnerable citizens rather than how it rewards the most privileged.
Seriously ill patients, especially children, are among the most vulnerable members of our society.
He said cuts of over 600 million euro will have utterly devastating consequences for these citizens.