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Front-line job cuts will cause chaos in health services – Ó Caoláin

21 April, 2009 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Commenting on the leaked memo from the HSE, Sinn Féin Health & children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said that it would cause chaos in the public health services and that "savage health cuts cannot be dressed up as reform". He stated:

"The HSE memo demands cuts of hundreds of front-line jobs in our public health services, including 700 nurses. This is but the latest blow to our public health services which have been the target of cuts since autumn 2007.

"The HSE has already been directed by the Fianna Fáil/Green Government not to renew any temporary contracts when they expire, not to fill posts that fall vacant due to retirement and not to fill posts that fall vacant due to resignation/career breaks/early retirement scheme.

"Over 14,000 staff throughout the health services are on temporary contracts, so the full implementation of the Government directive to the HSE will have a massive effect on patient care. The further cuts revealed in the HSE memo will add to the chaos. While the transfer of staff from administrative duties to community health services is welcome this is being used as a smokescreen to hide the effects of cuts on front-line care.

"Hospital waiting lists and A&E queues are as bad as ever and will worsen with the massive cuts in jobs in the public health service.

"At the same time the Minister has given a gold-plated guarantee to the hospital consultants that their €250,000 per annum contract will not be touched. This is for a 33-hour week in the public system and they can still work up to 25% of that time in private practice.

"Savage health cuts cannot be dressed up as reform. Successive Fianna Fáil-led Governments refused over the past 12 years to bring in real health reform and to build an equitable, efficient and sustainable public health system when unprecedented resources were available to do so. Now they are attacking the public health system and doing so under the banner of reform. The hypocrisy of their approach to health knows no bounds." ENDS

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