Responding to the internal HSE memo obtained by the Daily Mail threatening closures of care homes for older people as well as hospital beds, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, said:
“The cuts threatened by the Minister and the HSE would utterly devastate our public health services. They would target the old, the sick, the vulnerable and families on low incomes.
We do not know whether cuts as extensive as that will be imposed in Budget 2012. They have been described as three years of cuts rolled into one. Whether imposed over one year or over three years they would be disastrous.
“The minister and his cabinet colleagues are causing fear and anxiety to people all over the country with their threats in advance of the budget. This is part of an elaborate game within cabinet – between Ministers, between Fine Gael and Labour and between the cabinet and the media. But it is the vulnerable who suffer in advance of the budget and it is most assuredly the vulnerable who will suffer after it.
“The minister and his colleagues may hope that this softening up process will lead people to say on budget day ‘Well, it wasn’t as bad as we thought.’
“Don’t count on it, Minister. The current cuts, begun by Fianna Fáil and continued by this coalition, are hurting people and damaging our public health system. Further health cuts will worsen the crisis. People know that.
“Any attempt to impose an annual charge – whether €50 or less – on medical card holders, plus an increase in prescription fees, would be an attack on the most vulnerable. And this from a government in which both parties pledged before the General Election to introduce free GP care for all in their first term, a pledge repeated in the Programme for Government.” ENDS