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Government already abdicating responsibility in Health – O’Reilly

9 May, 2016 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly has condemned the Fine Gael minority government for beginning a process of privatisation that will irreparably limit access to the health service for thousands of people and forever codifying our two-tier health service in perpetuity. Deputy O’Reilly reaffirmed Sinn Féin’s commitment to a universal healthcare model, free at the point of access.

The Fingal TD said:

“While Sinn Fein and the government are in agreement that the current model for healthcare in this country is wholly insufficient, we differ drastically on the means to remedy the situation. The previous government failed utterly in solving the crisis that faces our health service, indeed many of the problems increased significantly, trolley numbers and waiting lists being two prime examples.

“Now the incoming government seeks to carve the hospital system up into bite sized portions, easily palmed off onto the private sector and out of the government’s hands. The draft programme for government clearly states that ‘We will provide for the temporary transfer of management of hospitals to another provider where there are consistently poor outcomes, patient experiences and financial management’.

“Wholesale privatisation of the hospital network has the potential to lock out thousands from accessing basic medical care based on their ability to pay. This is not acceptable. Inability to pay should not deny anyone the opportunity to lead a full, long, healthy life.

“This crisis can be boiled down to two key failings on the part of successive governments: firstly, an extreme depth of fundamental inequality in how patients are treated, differentiated on ability to pay and location; and secondly, the sheer incapacity of the system to deal with even demographic pressures, evidenced particularly in our Emergency Departments and maternity care.

“We need to increase investment in the health system, not simply to provide more resources and capacity, but to directly challenge and eliminate these structural inequalities. Before the election, Sinn Fein proposed to invest an additional €3.3 billion over the lifetime of a government.

“Investment must prioritise automatic medical cards for children with disabilities, free GP care for all commencing with lower income households, the abolition of prescription charges and extension of free prescription drugs to all, the removal of hospital charges, the rollout of universal dental care, the expansion of ambulance services, and ending two-tier access to public hospital care.

“Increased and targeted investment is the answer to solving our health crisis, not abdicating responsibility and hoping that someone else will solve your problems.” 

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