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Crowe - Government handling of crisis in health service is shambolic

12 March, 2003


Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has described the Government approach to the growing crisis in our health service as "shambolic" and accused the Government of "deliberately encouraging and facilitating the development of a two-tier health service" at the expense of the public service." The Dublin South West TD was speaking after a week of revelations that show that the public health service is at "breaking point".

He cited the cases of the job losses at the Mater Hospital, the lack of resources for cancer treatment at St Lukes and the appalling conditions at St Itas in Portrane as evidence that despite all the Government's pre-election promises that things have got worse instead of better.

He also contrasted the generous tax breaks of €10m introduced in the Finance Bill and given to a private health care provider in Charlie McCreevy's constituency with the real cutbacks to the public health service state wide.

Deputy Crowe said:

"It is clear that the Government's handling of the healthcare crisis is shambolic. We have Ministers stepping over each other in an attempt to apportion blame for what is going on. The Finance minister accusing the Health minister of bad practice and inefficiency and vice versa. All this to avoid collective accountability and responsibility and to save the Taoiseach's blushe for what is a scandal.

"It is Government policy that is at the heart of the health crisis. They are deliberately encouraging and facilitating the development of a two-tier health service where only those who can afford treatment get treated and those who can't languish on every spiralling waiting lists. The generous tax breaks of up to €10m, sneakily introduced in the Finance Bill for the benefit of a provider of private health care who is based in Charlie McCreevy's own constituency shows that the Government is more interested in following the American model of healthcare which only looks after those who can afford it than in looking after thegeneral needs of the population.

"Recent revelations of job losses at the Mater Hospital, the lack of resources for cancer treatment at St Lukes, the appalling condition of St Itas all point to a public health service at breaking point and show that the Governments pre-election promises were not worth the paper they were written on. Talk of increased budgets of 2, 3 and even 4% is meaningless when we all know that inflation has outstripped these increases many times over." ENDS

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