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Health Care to become a Commodity – Crowe

9 November, 2015 - by Seán Crowe TD

Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has expressed his utter disgust at the news that the government is considering opening up more of the health service to privatisation, saying that this system would lead directly to health care becoming a commodity, and would inevitably lead to profit being the driving force rather than patient care.

The Dublin South-West deputy’s comments come after Minister for Health Leo Varadkar made a speech suggesting that underperforming hospitals would be opened up to private interests and follows criticism of staff in Tallaght Hospital by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who blamed staff for elderly patients being left on trolleys in Accident & Emergency.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“The Fine Gael / Labour government, faced with the enormity of the challenge of dealing with  a broken health system through their cuts and mismanagement, have utterly failed in their obligation to alleviate the suffering caused by those very same policies and are now opting for privatisation that will reinforce health care becoming a commodity.

“The latest notion from this government is that hospitals which ‘consistently underperform’ would see their management passed over to a private operator. I am utterly disgusted to think of how this would impact on seriously ill patients who would then be at the mercy of a profit driven margin.

“Such policy has been a disaster in other countries and we only have to look across the water in Britain to see the consequences of the Conservatives roll out of this kind of initiative. In the United States, corporate private medicine has also led to a heartless, more expensive care model that is less efficient and with poorer outcomes.

“Minister Varadkar talks of ‘incentivising’ hospitals to do more work. His work harder notion includes already overstretched men and women in our hospitals who will be asked to do even more. This is happening with a backdrop of nurses in St. Vincent’s having been forced to take industrial action to highlight the dangerous situation facing patients there with overcrowding, and a shortage of beds and key staff.

“This new work ethic will also be driven by the 1,000 extra nurses announced in the budget, all the while ignoring Minister Kathleen Lynch’s announcement that 1,500 nurses will actually retire from mental health services, leaving 500 less to do work on wards.

“No doubt he will be asking 4th year nurses to do more. Trainees currently work a 39 hour week for a miserly €6.95 an hour.

“His work harder notion should apply to his sense of leadership that concentrates on pronouncements rather than positive announcements, such as much needed resources like primary care, step down beds and reduced numbers on trolleys.

“Our public health service is severely under resourced, that’s a fact not a notion. It requires a commitment, not only of new investment, but to a public ownership model. Patient care needs to be at the centre of our health system not the pursuit of profit.

“Sinn Féin is committed to delivering a world-class system of universal health care that is accessed on the basis of need, free at the point of delivery, and funded by progressive taxation to the Irish state. We believe that the majority of taxpayers if given the option would opt for this system over a profit driven system that reduces seriously ill people to a numbers or a cash figure.”

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