“Health test for ‘rebel’ backbenchers” – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said that Government-supporting backbenchers, if they are sincere about the health issues they have raised, should vote with the Opposition on this week’s Private Members motion opposing health cuts.
“A huge price is being paid for the misgovernment of this State over the past 13 years. Among those paying very heavily are public patients in our health services. They are now subject to savage cutbacks that are closing hospital services, shutting down beds and wards, increasing waiting lists and waiting times, worsening the overcrowding in A&E departments and slashing a whole range of services in the community.
“The so-called rebel backbenchers who have been raising health issues over the summer were happy to troop in behind Minister Harney and her Cabinet colleagues to vote for prescription charges for medical card holders on the day before the summer recess. And they voted for every health cut in every budget since 2007.
“This week they have a chance to redeem themselves and demonstrate their sincerity in raising the health service crisis in their regions. Then it will be up to the voters to decide if the real concern of these backbenchers are hospital beds or Dáil seats.
“The removal of services from Monaghan General Hospital, culminating in the ending of acute services on 22nd July 2009, has been used as a template for the downgrading of other hospitals. Government and HSE centralisation policy, as well as the tightening regime of cutbacks, including the recruitment embargo, sees hospitals across the State under threat.
“Over 100 staff on fixed-term contracts in Letterkenny General have received notice that their hours will be cut by 7 hours per week. This is at a time when frontline staff and patients say that the hospital is full to capacity. The HSE is also planning a range of major cuts to services at the hospital.
“I would urge people campaigning on health issues in the regions and nationally to keep up the pressure on Government-supporting TDs and help to hasten the departure of a regime that has caused huge hardship in our public health services.” ENDS