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New consultants’ contract will not dismantle two-tier system – Ó Caoláin

18 September, 2007

Commenting on the 'final offer' from the Health Service Executive to consultants in talks on proposed new contracts, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:

"While it is welcome that the proposed contracts restrict 'double-jobbing' public and private practice by consultants, the reality is that even if accepted by the consultants these contracts will not dismantle the two-tier system of hospital care.

"As far back as 2001 the Government Health Strategy recognised that 'greater equity for public hospital patients' was needed and that a new contract with hospital consultants was essential for this. The target date was the end of 2002. The Government's softly, softly approach to the consultants in all that time was in stark contrast to the bullying approach it took to the campaign by the nurses' organisations.

"The Government has undermined its own position in these talks with its drive to privatise hospital services. The disgraceful scheme to allocate land at public hospital sites to private hospital developers is reinforcing the two-tier public-private system.

"On the one hand the Government claims to be defending the public health system while on the other hand it boosts the private-for-profit healthcare industry. Its addiction to public-private partnerships has delayed the provision of life-saving radiotherapy infrastructure, with HSE Chief Brendan Drumm admitting yesterday that radiotherapy centres could be provided faster if delivered directly by the State. The Government is presiding over a shambolic health policy which is not sustainable." CRÍOCH

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