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Ó Caoláin - Government is charging more for less

13 November, 2003

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has described as "disgraceful" the increase in health service charges which Health Minister Micheál Martin has admitted will take place in the wake of the Estimates. He said:

"The increased charges for health services are absolutely disgraceful. A rise in fees for visiting Accident and Emergency comes after a rise of 26% last year. It comes at a time when people are on trolleys in A&E units, when the Government is proposing to close such units in local hospitals under the Hanley report where it has not already done so. It comes at a time also when the Primary Care units promised by this Government have not been delivered. Such units would help reduce the numbers of people going to A&E.

"These charges are a further blow to those whose income is just above the limit for the medical card. They will now face higher costs for medicines after another significant increase last year.

"The Government is charging more money for less services.

"Minister McCreevy speaks of 'a tighter approach and greater prioritisation of spending' but where was this approach when he was bankrolling his pet project in Punchestown in his own constituency? This symbolises the overall economic mismanagement by this Government.

"The increases for health do not provide for reforms which the government claims it is committed to. I believe these estimates will simply keep the system turning over but they will not provide for the fundamental reform that is needed. The two-tier public private system is hugely costly and inefficient as well as being grossly unfair."ENDS

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