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HSE Board to go but Health cuts to worsen – Ó Caoláin

18 July, 2012 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Commenting on the publication of the HSE Governance Bill, Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, said the Bill represents bureaucratic change while cuts to public health services worsen and while the inequitable two-tier structure of the health system remains in place. He said the departure of Cathal Magee raised serious concern.
“The departure of HSE CEO Cathal Magee raises serious concern. He was an able administrator and engaged openly with the Oireachtas. It is very significant that Minister of State Róisín Shortall has expressed regret at the departure and has said she learned of it from the media. What prompted Cathal Magee to resign? What is going on between Minister Reilly and his Ministers of State?
“Few people will lament the departure of the HSE Board. It was established by the last Government and was used to abdicate Government responsibility and accountability for the delivery of public healthcare.
“We said at the time of the establishment of the HSE that it represented bureaucratic change while the inequitable two-tier public-private health system remained in place. The replacement of the HSE Board with a HSE Directorate does the same. Governance of the HSE is changing but the system remains the same.
“The Minister’s promised reforms based on universal health insurance have yet to be set out in detail. All the indications are that this will mean more privatisation and a further winding down of publicly delivered healthcare.
“Last year when the Minister called on the then HSE Board to resign there were some 1,500 public hospital beds closed at that stage. As he makes his announcement today there are over 2,400 public beds closed.
“As the Minister announces these changes he is presiding over severe cuts in our public health services with more to follow. The Department of Health is planning to take a further €2 billion out of the public health services up to 2014. The expected €500 million shortfall in the health budget this year was entirely predictable as the cuts imposed in budget 2012 were unsustainable.
“Sinn Féin has called for the restoration of direct ministerial and departmental responsibility for health services which are funded by public money. We have urged the removal of the top heavy bureaucracy of the HSE and a review of managerial and administrative posts within the health service and the Department of Health & Children, eliminating those positions that are surplus to requirements and using the money saved to hire more front line health professionals.
“The Minister should cap salaries in public health services at €100,000 per annum. 110 HSE staff receive more than €100,000 per year.” ENDS

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