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Government values patients less than bank bond-holders – Ó Caoláin

27 June, 2011 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said that the Fine Gael/Labour Government values patients in our public health system less than senior bank bond-holders. He was responding to the instruction from Health Minister James Reilly to the HSE that hospitals must ‘scale back activities’ in 2011 and to the announced loss of 24-hour emergency services at Roscommon Hospital.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“Health Minister James Reilly’s instruction to the HSE that hospitals must scale back activities in 2011 to remain within their allocated budgets is a recipe for further misery in our health services.

“Already public hospitals are over-stretched due to cutbacks. The Minister now wants to impose further cuts. The Minister’s reference to hospitals ‘crying for help’ and ‘putting the hand out’ at the end of the year is insulting to long-suffering patients and to hard-pressed staff alike. The Taoiseach’s confirmation that Roscommon Hospital is to lose 24-hour A&E services from 1 July is a further blow.

“The Minister’s much trumpeted ‘Special Delivery Unit’ to address the crisis in A&E departments is not even up and running yet. We have yet to see any further detail, let alone legislation, on the Minister’s promised health service reform, including insurance-based funding and ‘money follows the patient’. Yet hospitals are still expected to continue to operate strictly on lower budgets and within a funding system which the Minister himself admits does not work.

“This Government has refused to ‘burn’ senior bank bond-holders – it values them more than it values people who depend on our health services. The Minister states in his letter to the HSE that the hospitals are responsible for a deficit of €100 million. But on 1 April this year the Government handed over €24 billion to the banks.

“Sinn Féin will stand with communities in opposing savage health cuts and we will continue to put forward a better fairer way to address the economic recession and the healthcare crisis.”

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