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Crumlin cuts – Our children deserve better

23 June, 2009 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Speaking ahead of tonight’s Dáil debate on government cuts imposed on Our Lady's Crumlin Children’s Hospital Sinn Féin Dublin Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has slammed Health Minister Mary Harney, Fianna Fáil and the Greens for their continued failure to put the health and well being of Ireland’s children first. Deputy Ó Snodaigh called on the government to bin once and for all its privatisation agenda and commit itself to delivering a first-class publicly funded universal healthcare system.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“Tonight’s debate is an important one as it will starkly expose the impact of the cuts imposed by this government on our children’s healthcare. Mary Harney remains wedded to the PDs' failed privatisation agenda and the Ministers government partners Fianna Fáil and the Greens are right behind her.

“The HSE has increased its spend on private hospital procedures for children over a recent year period by an astonishing 8,400%. In 2004 the HSE spent €54,536 on sub-contracting operations on children to private hospitals. By 2008 that figure had risen to over €4.5 million. In total the government has diverted €16.5 million between 2004 and 2008 away from public health service provision for children to private hospitals.

“Health Minister Mary Harney has imposed a range of savage cutbacks on Crumlin and Tallaght Children’s Hospital including the closure of an operating theatre which will result in the delay or cancellation of more than 2,000 operations and the closure of two wards in Crumlin due to a miserly €9.6 million shortfall in funding from government. This shortfall must be looked at in the context of the most recent government Anglo-Irish Bank bail-out of €4billion and it is clear where this governments priorities lie. Suffer little children for the bankers must be saved.

“Last summer Crumlin faced similar cutbacks with the closure of a Cystic Fibrosis weekend ward and a range of staff were let go from a number of departments including Urology and Neurology. Our Lady’s is a national centre of excellence for the care of children yet the government refuses to adequately fund its needs to operate effectively. Mary Harney with the backing of government Ministers and the Taoiseach is I believe running down the hospital in advance of it moving to the much maligned Mater site and I suspect then selling off the hospital to private interests wishing to start up a private Children’s Hospital. What other explanation can there be?

“Privatisation of public services does not work. It didn’t work during the Celtic Tiger’s years and it will not work during the recession. If billions of euro can be found at a moments notice to bail out a bad bank like Anglo then a similar commitment and approach needs to be embraced by this government to our children’s healthcare. From the days of Dev Fianna Fáil’s record when it comes to the care and well-being of our children, particularly the most vulnerable, is disgraceful. They have never cherished all of the children equally nor have they prioritised our children’s education, their care and their health.” ENDS

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