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HSE Service Plan means “destruction of services” – Ó Caoláin

1 February, 2012 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said that the HSE Service Plan 2012 is a plan for the “wholesale destruction of services”. He said it was “austerity in action”.

Speaking in the Dáil during statements on the HSE Service Plan Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“The HSE National Service Plan 2012 implements the continuing regime of cruel cuts begun by the Fianna Fáil/Green Government and now continued by the Fine Gael/Labour Coalition. This is a plan for the wholesale reduction of services across all sectors of our healthcare system.

“It is no wonder that the Government will do anything to avoid a referendum on the EU austerity treaty because this plan and the widespread cuts to vital services represent austerity in action.

“When Minister Varadkar insulted the intelligence of the Irish people by asserting that a referendum would be undemocratic he said it would focus on issues not related to the referendum question. Of course he and his colleagues know very well that a referendum debate will indeed focus on the cuts imposed by this Government – and rightly so because, if the Austerity Treaty is adopted, this State will be locking itself into an economic straitjacket that will mean years and years of further cuts to our services in health and education and social welfare.

“This Service Plan spells misery in 2012 and beyond for people who use our health services and the staff who have to deliver those services. These are the public health services on which we all depend, the public services that must still be in place and must be provided while the private sector can pick and choose which services it will provide based on the profit motive.

“The Health budget reduction of €750 million as a result of Budget 2012 comes after the €1 billion reduction in 2011.

“The Minister for Health James Reilly has claimed that front-line services can be preserved through greater efficiency. This is directly contradicted by the plan which states: ‘The bulk of the reductions that the HSE is required to deliver in 2012 will impact increasingly directly on frontline services.’

“We now know that some 3,500 staff are leaving the HSE at the end of this month. And we also know that there is no plan to ensure that the services affected by this exodus will not be drastically curtailed.

“The Minister for Public Expenditure has tried to portray the redundancies as almost a technical industrial relations matter. The truth is this is all part of the drive to drastically reduce public services and the public pay bill in pursuit of the doomed austerity programme of this Government. The key point is that the recruitment embargo remains in place, with some exceptions, and that this further and dramatic exodus from the public health services will deal a body blow to the provision of services to patients.”

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