Budget 2016 Health commitments ‘wholly inadequate’ – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has criticised Budget 2016 as ‘wholly inadequate’ to deal with the current crisis in the health service. Deputy Ó Caoláin railed against the government for believing that a net increase of €18million was sufficient to end the scandals of trolleys and waiting lists.
Deputy Ó Caoláin also pointed out that in Department costings, the cost of free GP care for under 12s was costed at almost four times that announced in the Budget yesterday.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“Yesterday, while this government outlined their budget measures for 2016, 469 people lay on trolleys in hospitals across this State. While you glorified a budget that will give €181.9 million back in taxes to the top 14% of earners, nurses at St. Vincent’s University Hospital began a work-to-rule, in protest at the appalling conditions staff and patients are subjected to on a daily basis.
“The additional funding allocation announced yesterday for Health amounts in real terms to a miserable €18 million, the lowest additional allocation of the seven named Departments in the Government’s Budget 2016 New Expenditure Measures.
“This is a damning indictment of this Fine Gael Labour Government and shows that you are clearly refusing to listen to the concerns of patients and staff.
“Emergency Department services have been at crisis point for a very long time, as highlighted daily by the ‘Trolley Watch’ survey carried out by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation. During September this year there were a shocking 7,630 patients on trolleys. This represents a 17% increase when compared to September 2014.
“Adequate funding is necessary but the current problems will not be abated anytime soon going by yesterday’s announcement. The reality is as we face into another winter that the crisis will not only endure but will deepen across our hospital sites.
“I note with interest that the government have said that the extension of Free GP care for Under 12s will cost €10million. When costing this measure ourselves, the Department for Public Expenditure and Reform told us that the cost would be €39 million. It would therefore appear that the government have only set aside money for the first quarter of 2016 and have totally ignored the real cost over a full year. Why can you not be upfront and honest with the people?
“In our alternative budget Sinn Féin committed to a €383 million spend on Health. It is spending of this magnitude that is urgently required and we have shown how this is possible. I therefore call on you to have a look at what we propose. Urgent action is needed to address these pressing issues, to ensure patient safety and to alleviate the pressure on staff who are forced to deal with the consequences of a health system that is falling apart.”