Sinn Féin’s Sandra McLellan TD, has today said that the government’s health funding plans have zero credibility.
Speaking at the Health Sub-Committee on the revised estimates, McLellan said:
“It has to be said that there is an air of unreality about all this. Basic figures have changed for unaccountable reasons. Other figures have been plucked from the air and no-one can explain where they came from.
“Sinn Féin has repeatedly argued that the health funding plans of the Fine Gael/Labour coalition have zero credibility.
“Some €666 million worth of spending cuts to health were signalled in the budget. This became €619 million in the service plan. The earlier version of the service plan, we are told, stated that the actual budgetary challenges facing the health service in 2014 is €1 billion.
“Tony O’Brien of the HSE confirmed on radio that he was given no source for the proposed budget figure of €113 million cuts to medical cards. That figure has since changed to €23 million in the current service plan.
“The bottom line is this; the provision for our Health Services in Budget 2014 was inadequate. The cuts being imposed across our public health system this year are unsustainable.
“I am very concerned at the cuts to Long-Term Residential Care. The Nursing Home Support Scheme, the so-called ‘Fair Deal’, is being cut again and this has very serious implications for the lives of vulnerable older people and very severe knock-on effects for our entire health system.
“There is already a huge waiting list for places under the so-called ‘Fair Deal’ scheme and these cuts spell misery for thousands of older people, many of whom are occupying hospital beds because they can no longer be cared for in their homes and they cannot get access to nursing home places.
“The cuts in these revised estimates will result in more older people spending more time occupying scarce acute hospital beds while awaiting nursing home places. This is a totally false economy, as well as a source of misery for older people.
“These cuts should not go ahead. We must provide for an increase in nursing home places, providing decent care for older people while also freeing up many hundreds of in-patient beds in our acute hospitals.”