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Ó Caoláin - squabble while patients suffer - Time to take on consultants

4 April, 2003

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has accused Government Ministers of squabbling over health policy while patients suffer. Commenting on the public row between Health Minister Martin and Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy, Deputy Ó Caoláin said the Government was "at sixes and sevens" over Health and challenged the Taoiseach to say "who is in charge". Deputy Ó Caoláin also called on the Minister to "take on" consultants who were holding up health reform. He said:

"Patients are suffering on waiting lists and hospital beds and wards are being closed. There are not enough consultants, junior doctors and nurses. The downgrading of smaller local hospitals continues apace. Services for people with disabilities are being cut back. And in the face of all this we have Government ministers squabbling over health policy. This Government is at sixes and sevens over health.

"I challenge the Taoiseach to say who is in charge of Health policy following Health Minister Martin's criticism of Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy. Minister Martin's frank statement that the Minister for Finance and his department have lost sight of the 'bigger picture' on health is a damning indictment.

"Equally damning is the Minister for Health's admission that consultants are still 'kings in their own domain' and are blocking the reforms necessary to improve the health services. It is time to take on this powerful elite. And in doing this the Minister should have the full support of his Cabinet colleagues, including the Finance Minister." ENDS

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