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Waiting lists initiatives need to be better than past Fine Gael notions – O’Reilly

9 August, 2016 - by Louise O'Reilly TD


Responding to a radio interview by the Minister for Health Simon Harris where he said he had five initiatives to deal with the waiting lists crisis, Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD said that the history of Fine Gael and five point plans has been disastrous and the scant details of the new five point action plan announced on radio today to deal with waiting lists are no different.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“The history of Fine Gael and five point plans has been disastrous and the scant details of the new five point action plan announced on radio today to deal with waiting lists are no different. The minor details announced today, coupled with what we have seen in the Programme for Government, are a Trojan horse for delivering even further privatisation of our health service.

“The Minister said this morning that we need sustained investment in waiting list initiatives. But the solution to this crisis in public health care is investment in the public system. The real solution to the crisis lies in recruitment and retention of staff, and the reopening of beds closed in our hospitals by successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments. 

“Minister Harris seems to think that the National Treatment Purchase Fund is the solution to this deepening problem, however, outsourcing of the problem is not a long term solution and privatising more healthcare will simply not work.

“The measures that were announced are empty and will not address the systemic problems that have led to the waiting list crisis. The Minister and the HSE may believe that they are sufficiently resourced to deliver the service plan but the service plan lacks ambition and focus without serious recruitment, retention and beds right across the services- from primary care to acute hospitals.

“The Minister’s plan primarily sees the creation of positions at managerial level and primary support for the private sector to alleviate public waiting lists. It is not support for the public health service. Sinn Féin would explore the feasibility of a new model, similar to that used by the Portuguese National Health System, to maximise the capacity of the public hospital system and introduce fairness and strategic management across all waiting lists. It would also make some use of existing capacity in the private hospital system in the short term, but our solution to the waiting lists crisis is reliant on improving, resourcing and staffing our public health service to meet capacity.

“I have contacted Minister Harris’s office seeking further details of the plan and for a briefing on it. I am hopeful, given the commitment and support the Minister has pledge to the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare that he will accede to this.” 

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