Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD - health section - Ard Fheis 2012
Ba mhaith liom tús a chur leis an díospóireacht ar Sláinte agus Leanaí agus rúin 102 agus 103 in ainm an Ard Chomhairle a mholadh. Tá 22 rúin ar an ábhar seo, rud a léiríonn cé chomh tábhacthach is atá sé do Shinn Féin mar páirtí.
The campaign to defend our health services from cutbacks and to build truly equitable and excellent healthcare delivery for all is one of the top priorities for Sinn Féin. That is reflected in the number of resolutions on Health on our Ard Fheis Clár.
I urge your support for Motion 103 in the name of the Ard Chomhairle, the James Fintan Lalor Cumann, Portlaoise and the Charlie McGlade Cumann, Drimnagh.
The motion sets out the extent of the cuts in monetary terms, in loss of personnel and in loss of services. The HSE’s so-called ‘National’ Service Plan and the Regional Plans that are being rolled out across this State involve restrictions in services in primary care, hospital care, mental healthcare, older people’s services and children’s and family services.
This is austerity in action. Real damage is being done to our public health services by the austerity policies pursued by the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition Government, following on directly from the regime of former Health Minister Mary Harney and her Fianna Fáil and Green Party colleagues.
The Department of Health’s 2011 to 2014 Strategy states that €2 billion will be taken out of the health services up to 2014. Services are simply unsustainable with that level of austerity being imposed.
Front-line services are being seriously affected by the cuts and will be increasingly so affected. That is not scare-mongering by Sinn Féin. The HSE’s own so-called ‘National’ Service Plan 2012 states:
“The bulk of the reductions that the HSE is required to deliver in 2012 will impact increasingly directly on frontline services.”
And this is in the context of over 4,500 staff departed from the public health services under the early retirement scheme up to the end of February last and, crucially, a continuing recruitment ban.
Minister Reilly has put public nursing homes of 50 beds and under on notice. They are told they are uneconomic and that they face closure. At an Oireachtas Health & Children Committee earlier this year HIQA representatives confirmed, when questioned by my colleague Deputy Mícheál Colreavy, that there are no inherent safety or quality issues with homes of under 50 beds. This is purely a budgetary measure.
Sinn Féin will stand with communities across this State who are holding out against threats of closure of care homes for older people and the numerous other public healthcare facilities that are in the sights of this Government.
I urge support for Motion 107 from Monaghan Comhairle Ceantair to demand justice and truth for the women victims of the horrific practice of symphysiotomy in Irish hospitals. They deserve no less and they have our full support. The efforts by a section of the medical profession and by influences in the HSE and the Department of Health to prevent an open, independent inquiry into this scandal are disgraceful. On our proposal the Dáil debated this issue for the first time on 15 March last and I commend the work of the all-party group working on this issue. We need a clear statement of intent from Minister Reilly.
We are nearing the end of a referendum campaign. But this is not the referendum we should be having. The Government should never have signed the Austerity Treaty and if they had not done so this referendum would not have been necessary. Instead we should be having the long promised and long awaited referendum to strengthen the rights of children. That referendum should proceed in this calendar year. Further delay is unacceptable.
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 defend and promote the rights of children.
Tá obair mór le déanamh againn a chairde agus mar sin ar aghaidh leis an obair.