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Much more than structural change to HSE needed – Ó Caoláin

30 October, 2008 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has called for immediate clarification from the Minister for Health & Children Mary Harney regarding reported changes to the structure of the Health Service Executive.

During Order of Business in the Dáil today (Thursday) the Tánaiste Mary Coughlan stated that, contrary to media reports, new regional health authorities under the HSE are not to be established.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"We need clarity from the Minister for Health & Children Mary Harney about the future of the HSE. It is reported today that the HSE is proposing to create nine regional authorities, supposedly to streamline the way it operates.

"Such a major change so soon after the HSE was established would be an admission that the present structure is not working, something we all know only too well. The HSE is top heavy with bureaucracy and healthcare workers report that decision-making is often slow to the point of inertia.

"Legislation should be brought before the Dáil if there is to be any change to the structure of the HSE which was established by the Oireachtas. The elected representatives of the people were excluded from the HSE when it was established. That democratic deficit will apparently be replicated in new structures. More importantly, patients are excluded when it comes to the negative impact of much HSE decision-making. All the more reason for elected representatives to debate and legislate on this vital matter.

"Ultimately much more than structural change to the HSE is needed. We need a fundamental change in Government healthcare policy away from the two-tier system, privatisation and centralisation and towards universal provision with equal access for all." ENDS

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