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Removing minister without dumping failed policy is pointless” – Ó Caoláin

3 August, 2012 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Commenting on the latest calls for the resignation of health minister, James Reilly, the Sinn Féin health spokesperson, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said that while the criticism and resignation calls are “thoroughly deserved”, the removal of Minister Reilly without introducing new policies would be pointless.
He said: “The latest calls for the resignation of health minister James Reilly come after the revelation of letters from outgoing HSE CEO Cathal Magee to the Department of Health. These letters highlight a lack of decisiveness on the part of Minister Reilly and the poor relationship between the minister and the CEO.
“The letters also highlight the fact that the Budget 2012 cuts imposed on the health services are simply unsustainable without gravely affecting front-line services, including hospital activity.
“Slashing health services in pursuit of the Coalition’s futile austerity strategy is disgraceful and all members of the Fine Gael/Labour Cabinet bear responsibility.
“The so-called spending over-run of €300 million in the health budget so far this year was utterly predictable because the amount of money cut from the Health budget for 2012 was totally unsustainable. Some €750 million was taken out of health in the Fine Gael/Labour Coalition Government’s Budget 2012. €1 billion was taken out of health spending in 2011 and the Department of Health is talking about an overall reduction of €2 billion up to 2014.
“Minister Reilly thoroughly deserves the criticism and resignation calls now being directed at him. He began his term as minister by reneging on his promise to re-open Roscommon Hospital A&E and it has been downhill ever since. Cuts have been imposed, hospital beds and wards closed, 300 care home beds cut so far this year and hospitals put under increasing pressure. At the same time, real savings such as those on the drugs bill and reducing the piggy-backing of private care on the public system have not been delivered.
“Minister Reilly should go – but so also should his policies. Removing the minister without dumping the failed policies is pointless. This Fine Gael/Labour Coalition promised major reform in the financing and delivery of healthcare yet, despite repeated promises from Minister Reilly, they have yet to outline the detail of this reform, including financing their proposed universal health insurance. Meanwhile, in pursuit of their austerity strategy, they are slashing care for patients.” ENDS

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