Caoimhghín O Caoláin TD – Our vision for health - Ard Fheis 2012
Here in this very conference centre in Killarney exactly two weeks ago the Minister for Health James Reilly, to his shame, told the Annual General Meeting of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation that he will not be reopening any of the closed beds in our public hospital system.
We currently have over 2,400 public hospital beds closed, as well as many closed wards and units – all because of austerity cutbacks.
Last October in the Dáil I asked Minister Reilly the following question:
“Does the Minister agree that more beds closed means more patients suffering needlessly on trolleys and more patients waiting at home in pain due to cancelled operations?”
Minister Reilly replied:
“I do not agree that more beds closed means more patients on trolleys and more people waiting.”
The Minister should have done his research because I then reminded him that in May 2010, after 33 beds were closed in Beaumont Hospital, one James Reilly TD stated:
“More beds closed means more patients suffering needlessly on trolleys and more patients waiting at home in pain due to cancelled operations.”
For years James Reilly was a hawk swooping on Mary Harney – now he is a parrot repeating her words.
We have been debating austerity in the context of the referendum. But what is austerity? Believe me, it is not an abstract idea or a debating point. In our health services austerity means misery for patients and a deepening crisis. It means closed beds and wards, hard-pressed front-line staff, less care for older people and longer waits for vital treatment.
Sinn Féin will continue to vehemently oppose the cuts to our public health services which are some of the worst aspects of the futile austerity policies of this Government.
We will continue to put forward our alternative of a truly reformed and truly equitable and efficient health service, with access based on need and not ability to pay. There is a better way and it can be done.