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Short-term crisis management in Health ‘has been a recipe for failure’ – O’Reilly

24 May, 2016 - by Louise O'Reilly TD


Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that it is imperative that the new Health Committee charged with dealing with a 10 year plan for the health system, saying that the 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.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“The plan to develop a 10 year plan for the health system is welcome. For too long, there has been policy development based solely on the political cycle and this has left the health service bereft of vision. There needs to be a goal for what we want to see of our health system and then as politicians and legislators, we work towards the achievement of that.

“Short-term crisis management has been a recipe for failure. You cannot isolate one crisis from the overarching crisis endemic in the entire system. 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.

“All those working in the health service want to see that there is a vision and a direction for the health system. It is impossible to recruit and attract health care professionals into a system where working conditions are poor, services are over-stretched and inequality is entrenched.

“In that regard, the new committee cannot neglect to holistically examine the core areas of health policy and this commitment needs to be matched by a commitment from the Department of Health to resource this plan'.

“While Sinn Féin welcomes the establishment of this committee, we remain firm that in healthcare our primary goal is a new universal public health system that provides care free at the point of delivery, on the basis of need alone, and funded from fair and progressive taxation. In that regard, we will be seeking a fundamental reorientation of the health system to adopt a central focus on prevention, health promotion and primary care.

“Such a new comprehensive system will not be achieved overnight but a beginning must be made and that requires political will and a fundamental change in the direction of policy, away from the piecemeal, inequitable, semi-privatised and crisis management approach that has perpetuated the many problems in our health service. This committee is a start for that and we will work with all parties and none to achieve this. However, we will not accept the programme for government plans which equate to a blueprint for privatisation.

“If Minister Harris is serious about this committee coming together to work collectively on this vision for the health service, he must clarify that any moves to privatise the health service, in the form of the programme for government plans will be shelved. The committee cannot gain legitimacy and respect, or develop a comprehensive programme of work, if it is precluded from its work by contrary plans pursued by the Minister at the outset. It is important that the Minister makes a statement of intent for how he intends to cooperate with this Committee as a matter of priority.” 

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