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HSE privatisation of children's medical care a 'disgrace' – Ó Snodaigh

12 June, 2009 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has hit out at Health Minister Mary Harney for continuing her privatisation agenda into children's health care. Deputy Ó Snodaigh made his comments following a parliamentary response from the Minister which revealed that the Health Service Executive spent over €16million on sub-contracting operations on children to private hospitals.

In 2004 €54,536 was paid to private hospitals by the HSE for children’s operations. However this has increased since to a figure of €4,615,331 directed away from public Children's hospitals towards profit hospitals via the National Treatment Purchase Scheme.

The figures show that in a five year period 2002 to 2008 there was an 8400% (eight thousand four hundred percent) increase in HSE spend on private hospital procedures for children while public children's hospitals being squeezed.

It must be remembered that this was at a time when the HSE was enforcing cuts on Crumlin and Tallaght Children's Hospitals, including the recent round of cuts.

Those cuts, highlighted first by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, will include the closure of an operating theatre (involving the delay or cancellation of more than 2,000 operations in a year) and two wards in Crumlin Hospital. Ó Snodaigh said the reply highlighted the privatisation policies being pursued by the Minister for Health, which is putting profit before the health of children and is aimed at undermining the public health service.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, “Operating Theatres, Wards and services for children are being closed across the state, including the recent cuts announced in Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin. Yet, we can see in this response that the HSE can find the money to subsidise private hospitals to provide services.

“We know that Mary Harney is privatising the health service. To do it in the area of children's health services is a disgrace. Mary Harney is letting the health service fail children and all in the interests of profits for her friends in the private hospital industry. She should be ashamed of herself. It's time for Mary Harney to step down from her position. She has no party mandate to be running the health service and certainly no popular mandate.” ENDS

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