Government health policy has collapsed – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said that the Government’s health policy has now collapsed following the revelation that Department of Health officials told health Minister Leo Varadkar on his appointment in July that his predecessor’s reform plans were “unworkable”.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“Government health policy has now collapsed. The new Minister Leo Varadkar has put the supposed cornerstone of that policy – former Minister Reilly’s health insurance plan – on hold. And now a memo has been leaked stating that plans to replace the HSE and other reforms were ‘unworkable’.
“We had to wait three years for the long promised White Paper on Universal Health Insurance and when it appeared earlier this year it raised more questions than answers. Crucially, the estimated cost of compulsory health insurance to citizens and families was not contained in the White Paper.
“We in Sinn Féin made very clear that the Fine Gael/Labour Coalition’s health policy was based on a privatised model of health insurance. The fundamental flaws in this plan and the general approach of Minister Reilly led to the resignation of his junior minister Róisín Shortall. We now know that she brought her concerns to both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste but they failed to act.
“Despite this, Minister Varadkar has stated his intention to proceed with James Reilly’s plans at some future unspecified date. Clearly this is not going to happen in advance of the next General Election. So this Government will stutter along with the current crisis-ridden public health service and with no real policy direction or reform programme.
“We will continue to press for real health reform with budgetary policy prioritising the delivery of front-line health services in the public system, an end to privatisation and the establishment of a truly universal healthcare system with access based on need.”