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Sinn Féin will tonight call for Health Minister to resign during Private Members debate on Health care

2 March, 2004

Sinn Féin will tonight during Private Members Business challenge the Government on it's record on health care delivery. Speaking in advance of the debate, where Sinn Féin will call for the resignation of the Minister for Health, the Party's leader in the Dáil, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin said:

"The government will argue in this debate that they have devoted unprecedented resources to health. And so they have. But this has come after decades of underfunding. At the same time the Government's refusal to challenge the two-tier system means vast amounts of public money continues to subsidise the private healthcare business to the detriment of public patients.

"In 2002 Fianna Fáil made a commitment to the electorate to "permanently end waiting lists in our hospitals within two years". That promise becomes due on May 17th next. But there are still over 27,000 people on hospital waiting lists.

"There can be no confidence in a Minister and a Government with such a record on health, not only since 2002 but since 1997. This was their principal mandate from the people. They have failed and we will be calling on the Minister to resign his position." ENDS

Note: Motion attached.

Sinn Féin Private Members Motion Health Care Delivery 2nd March 2004

That Dáil Éireann, recalling:

  • the promise by the Fianna Fáil party prior to the 2002 General Election to eliminate hospital waiting lists within two years;
  • their promise to extend medical card entitlement to a further 200,000 people;
  • that Action 89 of the Government's Health Strategy promised greater equity for public patients in acute hospital services in a revised contract for hospital consultants to be delivered by the end of 2002;
  • the promised delivery in the Health Strategy of a new model of primary care throughout the State;

noting that:

  • according to most recent figures there are 27,212 people on hospital waiting lists;
  • while 36% of the population was entitled to a medical card a decade ago less than 30% are so entitled today;
  • the consultants contract has not been renegotiated nor revised;
  • there has been minimal progress on primary care since 2001;
  • views with concern the continuing drive towards over-centralisation of hospital services including the closure of maternity, accident and emergency and other acute services at hospitals around the State and calls for the restoration of said services at those hospitals affected;
  • deplores the continuing failure to reform and resource mental health services resulting in continuing hardship for people with mental illness and the failure of the State to meet international human rights standards in this regard;
  • urges a reconsideration of the planned configuration of radiation oncology units in Dublin, Galway and Cork only and calls for the acceleration of plans for the overall improvement in cancer treatment services;
  • deplores the mismanagement of our health services at central Government and health board level as shown by the number of investigations into serious incidents, including fatalities, in a number of health board areas, and the delayed and unsatisfactory nature of those investigations;
  • considers that reform of health administration structures as proposed by Government will create a democratic deficit;
  • affirms that the two-tier, public-private system is inherently inequitable and inefficient and, after decades of underfunding of our health services, the two-tier structure is now causing increased resources to be used in an ineffective manner;
  • supports an all-Ireland approach to healthcare delivery to harmonise and maximise resources on an island-wide basis and urges greater priority for this approach by Government
  • asserts the basic right of equal access to the best health services for all regardless of ability to pay and seeks the phasing out of the current two-tier public-private system which subsidises the private healthcare business at the expense of the public system, to be replaced by a truly reformed Health Service with care free at the point of delivery and funded from general taxation;
  • calls for the establishment of a Cabinet Committee on Health chaired by An Taoiseach to spearhead the phasing in of a reformed Health Service; and
  • demands the resignation of the Minister for Health and Children.

- Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Seán Crowe, Martin Ferris, Arthur Morgan, Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

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