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Agreement with consultants retains two-tier system - Ó Caoláin

25 January, 2008

Commenting on the agreement between the Irish Hospital Consultants Association and the HSE, Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said that while there was relief that the marathon talks had concluded the reality is that the agreement retains the two-tier public-private health system.

He stated:

"A new contract for hospital consultants which would guarantee greater equity for public patients was promised in the Government's Health Strategy in 2001. It has taken over six years for this agreement to be reached. This is hardly surprising since the Government was pursuing the impossible task of creating 'greater equity' while a two-tier system remains.

"This new agreement apparently creates a single waiting list for out-patient and diagnostic services in public hospitals. However the fast-track for private patients for in-patient acute hospital care remains. Under the notorious 'co-location' scheme there will be more private for-profit hospitals and consultants will still be able to pursue private practice in these while receiving a State salary of up to €220,000 per annum.

"The only way to ensure equity for all hospital patients is to abolish the two-tier system and to guarantee equal access for all based on need alone. There should be single waiting lists for all hospital services, enough consultants and other front-line staff to drastically reduce those waiting lists and prioritisation of care based strictly on medical need.

"The Government should have decided long ago that all consultants working in the public hospital system should be public only, beginning with all new recruits. This would be an important step towards a single-tier universal health system free at the point of delivery. Of course this Government has no intention of working towards such a system." CRÍOCH

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