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Sinn Féin calls for the retention of St. Luke’s Cancer Hospital

1 July, 2010 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Speaking in the Seanad on the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill which seeks to discontinue services at St. Luke’s Cancer Hospital, Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has said that Sinn Féin is totally opposed to the discontinuation of services at this hospital which has provided a first class service to cancer patients for many years and described the Bill as an ‘attack on the sick’.

Senator Doherty said:

“This Bill principally deals with the discontinuation of services at St. Luke’s cancer hospital. Over 180,000 people have signed a petition to the Dáil and Seanad appealing to representatives to vote against this cruel and drastic piece of legislation. In my opinion the Bill is little more than an attack on the sick.

“We hear much from the Government about centres of excellence. St. Luke’s has been a centre of excellence for many years yet this government, in a cynical and cruel move want to close it. In my own county we have two community hospitals in a similar situation. The Lifford and Rock hospitals have provided a first class service to the community for many years and yet they are under threat of closure.

“Many people from Donegal have a strong affinity with St. Luke’s and have been treated or had love ones treated there. We in Donegal and the North West have been let down completely by the Minister for Health and the HSE, indeed in the Government’s radiation oncology plan it is proposed that no centre of excellence will be situated north of the line from Dublin to Galway. This is nothing short of a scandal.

“Healthcare across the state is in a state of crisis. The HSE has been exposed time and time again as grossly incompetent and unfit to run a health service. The Government tries to hide behind it but central to HSE failures is the disastrous health policy of this government.

“The experience of St. Luke’s is replicated in hospitals around the country which this government wishes to downgrade or close. The Government is following a policy of over-centralisation of services and the privatisation of services. It is a policy that rewards the private health care sector with land on public hospital sites and tax breaks to develop private for profit hospitals.

“At the same time the Government wishes to close long-standing, tried and trusted facilities such as St. Luke’s. Across the country Cancer patients have been denied life-saving treatment because successive governments have failed to provide the radiation oncology facilities required.

“The Government had ample time and a booming economy to plan and budget for the provision of radiotherapy centres. The state could and should have taken the lead and provided these centres directly as public facilities open to all on the basis of need alone. Instead the government committed itself to public-private partnerships to deliver them.

“Everybody in this room has been affected by cancer in some shape or form. To withdraw services from St. Luke’s hospital represents little more than an attack on people who are suffering. It should be opposed by everyone who believes that the right to a decent health care when you are sick is inalienable. I reject this Bill outright and urge Senators to do the same.”ENDS

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