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Ferris criticises Health Bill over increased centralisation

26 November, 2004

Sinn Féin TD for North Kerry, Martin Ferris, has criticised the Health Bill and claimed that it will further undermine regional health services and destroy any democratic control over the implementation of the proposed changes to the health services. Deputy Ferris was speaking during a debate on the Health Bill in the Dáil this morning.

Deputy Ferris said: "The main flaw in this Bill is its proposal to increase the centralisation of overall administration and key services in the health sector. This will further the agenda laid down in Hanly whereby decisions will be made with no input from democratically elected representatives.

"The Bill attempts to gloss over this by proposing to establish a National Health Consultative Forum along with forums at regional level but these will have no practical role and will merely provide a thin democratic veneer over the reality of centralised dictates.

"The effect which the philosophy behind Hanly and this Bill has can already been seen in the withdrawal of services from regional hospitals. With the diminishing of local input into decisions made, many regional hospitals are also being denied facilities and improvements that have already been promised. Instead of throwing the old Health Board baby out with the bath water, the Government ought to established methods to reform them in such a manner as would have retained and expanded their democratic accountability and eliminated the red tape and misuses which reduced their effectiveness. They might also have eradicated those elements within the Boards which were a result of certain political parties trying to run them as rewards for party loyalists and to ensure political control.

"Further evidence of the concern over the health services has been signalled by IMPACT whose 25,000 members have voted to withdraw co-operation with any proposed reforms within the service unless it's members are provided with guarantees that there will be no cutbacks in services, no redundancies and no diminishing of working conditions as part of the changes to come into effect from January." ENDS

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