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Cystic Fibrosis patients must not be let down again – Ó Caoláin

9 April, 2009 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said the planned development of the cystic fibrosis unit at St. Vincent’s Hospital should proceed without delay. Deputy Ó Caoláin said the constant changing of position on the unit from Health Minister Mary Harney raises fundamental questions about the delivery of health policy.

He said, "What has happened here in the Dáil this week raises a fundamental question about ministerial responsibility, health policy and the strategic management of our health services.

"Within the space of a week we have had the announcement that the funding for the HSE to provide the promised development of the cystic fibrosis unit at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin would not be forthcoming and the unit would not be up and running as promised in 2010, followed by the announcement by the Minister for Health that the development would go ahead and be operational as early as possible in 2011.

"The Minister’s announcement came after the nation had heard the anguish of cystic fibrosis sufferers and their families. In January 2008, after a hard fought campaign by cystic fibrosis sufferers the Minister made her original commitment. This was the commitment that was broken last week only to be reinstated – apparently – now by the Minister.

"The question is ‘What kind of exercise of Ministerial responsibility is this?’

"Decisions with huge implications for the lives of patients are being made based on the political heat that the Minister and her colleagues feel at any given moment rather than on the identified needs of patients in what should be a properly planned, well managed and equitably delivered public health service.

"We can only imagine the emotional turmoil all of this causes to cystic fibrosis patients and their families.

"As the Association points out, 25 young people died with CF in 2008 alone. Lives can be saved if the facilities and resources are provided.

"As has been repeatedly pointed out this country has the highest prevalence of cystic fibrosis in the world and we have the most severe types of cystic fibrosis in the World. Yet this State has the poorest resources for CF patients in Europe. The truth is that successive Governments have failed these patients and their families.

"They must not be let down again." ENDS

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