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Sinn Féin launches pathway to universal healthcare

15 December, 2015 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD


Sinn Féin Health spokesperson, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD, has this morning published his party’s comprehensive plan to deliver universal healthcare.

Speaking at a breakfast briefing with members of the media this morning Deputy Ó Caoláin said Sinn Féin has a plan to go with its vision for quality, accessible, public healthcare system, a world-class system of universal healthcare, accessed on the basis of need, free at the point of delivery and funded by the available fiscal space.

He said;

“Today we launch our plan for universal healthcare. We do so against a backdrop of multiple crises across our hospital network and in our health services generally.

“We do so having had today’s reality in our health services spelt out in clear and unequivocable terms by the Director General of the Health Service Executive Tony O’Brien in an interview published at the weekend. The frustration, the exasperation of Tony O’Brien is clear in every sentence.

“The HSE, he told us, has been on ‘death row’ since the current government took up office in 2011. And the headline summed it all up – there is ‘no plan’, there is ‘no money’ and there is ‘no vision for health’ where this and previous governments have been concerned.

“Frontline staff in our health services see it no differently.

“While we welcome the avertion of today’s planned two hour strike action by nurses in Emergency Departments across seven hospital sites, we know that nurses do not take strike action lightly.

“Yet 92% of those balloted voted in favour of today’s proposed action, and further actions, in an earnest effort to not only draw attention to the unacceptable situation that presents almost daily in our hospital Emergency Departments but to secure real and substantive address of the core causes of the difficulties experienced by both staff and patients alike.

“I again call on Minister Leo Varadkar to commit to a realistic recruitment and retention plan for nurses, not only in our Emergency Departments but across the health services generally.

“There were 349 patients on trolleys across our hospital network yesterday morning. Let us call it for what it is – it is a disgrace and is beyond toleration. There should be no acceptable level of day long or overnight dependency on trolleys in our Emergency Departments and on our hospital wards and corridors. The Minister for Health needs to move into a higher gear, if such exists, and have this shameful situation comprehensively addressed.

“These crises and the unacceptable waiting lists for access to consultants, access to procedures, access to treatments, access to day case attendances, are all products of a public health system that is under-resourced, under-staffed and, sadly, poorly perceived.

“It is a health system built on inequalities, fostered by the political interests of those parties that have overseen health budgets through the years. They have commended and nurtured the two tier system of access that allows those who can pay buy their way to the front of the queue, time after time after time, while those dependant on the public system languish in pain and wait and wait and wait.

“This is not only a shameful system, this is an immoral system.

“The private healthcare industry, for that is what it is, has piggy backed and sucked our public healthcare system dry as it seeks to feed its insatiable appetite for profits.

“Our vision is of a quality, accessible, public healthcare system, a world-class system of universal healthcare, accessed on the basis of need, free at the point of delivery and funded by progressive taxation.

“That is now not just a vision, it is now also a plan.

“We have set out a pathway to universal healthcare. This is a carefully researched and costed plan and one, I believe, that will have the support and welcome of all who truly believe in equality, of all who are truly republican.

“I commend our new health policy proposals to wider scrutiny and to the wider and necessary debate that I anticipate will inform and convince more and more healthcare professionals and the wider public of not just the merits of our plan but of how essential it is for all our healths sake.”

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