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Co-location is profit-driven and will deepen health apartheid – Ó Caoláin

11 January, 2008

Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said that people will not be fooled by claims from the Beacon Medical Group that its co-located private hospitals will be of major benefit to public patients.

Responding to news that Beacon has sought planning permission to build its private for-profit hospitals at Beaumont in Dublin, Cork University Hospital and the Midwest Regional Hospital in Limerick, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"Only the most naïve people will be fooled by claims by the Beacon Medical Group that their plans for private hospitals on the grounds of our public hospitals are motivated by anything other than profit. These are private for-profit hospitals which benefit hugely from Government tax breaks and access to lands at existing public hospital sites. Their main purpose is to benefit the shareholders and directors of the corporations which will own them.

"Co-location will deepen the apartheid in our hospital system. Only last week it was again confirmed that private patients in this State seeking cancer screening and treatment can access the fast track to services while public patients are on long waiting lists. This mirrors the US experience where in December last a national study showed that uninsured cancer patients are nearly twice as likely to die within five years as those with private coverage.

"It is scandalous that this Government is on the one hand downgrading services at local public hospitals such as Monaghan, Dundalk and Navan and on the other putting public money in the pockets of private profiteers. People in the North East region where these hospitals are being downgraded will have to travel to Beaumont in many cases. Similarly Ennis Hospital is being deprived of services while the privateers are hosted at the Mid-West Regional Hospital in Limerick.

"Co-location is part of this Government's privatisation agenda in our health services. It is moving closer to the US system from which private healthcare corporations such as Beacon have emerged.

"Sinn Féin will continue to vehemently oppose the privatisation of our health services and to campaign for a system that gives equal access to the best possible services to all based on need alone." ENDS

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