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HSE Service Plan shows Government ‘window dressing’ of Balbriggan Primary care centre – O’Reilly

27 January, 2017 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Responding to the confirmation in the HSE Service Plan for 2017 that the new Primary Care Centre in Balbriggan will not have any new staff employed, any additional beds or any additional capital spending, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson and TD for Dublin Fingal Louise O’Reilly has criticised the Government for ‘window dressing’ primary care- providing new buildings but no new staff.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“The HSE Service Plan for 2017 clearly shows that there are to be no new staff allocated to the Primary Care Centre in Balbriggan.  This is disappointing since former Health Minister, and now Senator, James Reilly, who controversially added Balbriggan to the list of centres, promised 80 jobs for the North County in the centre on top of the 100 jobs from the construction of the centre. What was omitted from the detail was that the jobs in the centre would be existing jobs.

“It turns out that staff will be relocated from other areas and no new staff will be hired.  The population in Balbriggan is among the youngest and fastest growing in Dublin and the health services are struggling as we speak.  The fact that no new staff will be employed by the HSE in this centre undermines the premise of primary care and the importance of these services to the community.

“The Programme for Government stated that ‘Priority should be given to the staffing of primary care teams for timely and appropriate levels of care for patients’. The reality however is much different.

“It is very clear that this Government are guilty of ‘window dressing’ primary care- providing new buildings but no new staff.  The people of Balbriggan and the North County deserve much better than this. While it is important to have primary care centres, it is important to be cognisant that in the absence of recruitment, funding or initiatives these centres could be underutilised. A primary care centre, like small hospitals, are no good to the communities they serve unless the necessary services are contained therein with the appropriate staff. 

“Resourcing goes beyond building new centres alone. If primary care was so important to this Government, then why are they not extending capacity by expanding staff and services? With no additional staff, how are we to see reductions in waiting lists? How can we expect to take pressure off the acute hospitals? How can we expect to have a greater range of services in the community if the HSE aren’t hiring or budgeting for them?

“The persistent under-resourcing of primary and community care means people end up in hospital when they should and could be cared for in the community. If the Minister was serious about primary care, he would have introduced a package of measures to properly resource it. Sadly, however the HSE Service Plan tells the true story.” 

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