Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Ó Caoláin backs IMPACT protest against health cuts

11 June, 2008

Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has expressed his support and that of his party for the protest today (Wednesday) by healthcare workers in the IMPACT trade union against cutbacks in the health services being imposed by the Government and the HSE.

Deputy Ó Caoláin, who is attending the lunchtime protest at Monaghan General Hospital, said:

"When the HSE began to impose cuts last September, including their recruitment freeze, Health Minister Mary Harney and HSE Chief Brendan Drumm claimed that these cuts would not affect patient care. They were proven wrong almost immediately and over the past eight months the effect of the cuts has been felt across the health services.

"Such is the concern at the extent of the cuts that the 28,000 members of IMPACT in the health services are on a work to rule and today are staging protests at hospitals throughout the State. I commend the workers in IMPACT for their action which is on behalf of patients and staff in our health services.

"As the union has pointed out, essential improvements in services such as primary care, mental health services, care for older people and disability services are not happening because of the HSE recruitment freeze.

"Last week in the Dáil I highlighted just one area of great need which is not being properly met and that is the shortage of speech and language therapists. While additional training places have been created, not enough posts have been put in place to meet the needs of children who require early intervention. We face the prospect of trained therapists having to emigrate to find work while children are denied the therapy they so desperately need.

"The Government and the HSE, even in their own book-keepings terms, are operating a false economy. The failure to develop primary care as promised leads to more dependence on our hard-pressed hospital A&E departments. The axing of the hospital in the home scheme leads to patients being admitted as in-patients and thus lengthening the waiting lists for beds. Inadequate services for older people and for people with disabilities in their own homes leads to more people than necessary being admitted to residential care at much greater cost.

"Protesting workers in the health services are strongly supported by the public and their protest today should be an occasion of unity and solidarity in the campaign for decent and equitable health services." ENDS

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