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Department of Health directionless on Brexit – O’Reilly

8 March, 2017 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Speaking after the Joint Oireachtas Committee meeting on Health with representatives of the Department of Health, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Health Louise O’Reilly TD has said that the Department are directionless on Brexit and do not seem to be prepared internally for the ramifications of Brexit for the Irish Health system.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“The presentation of the representatives of the Department of Health in respect of Brexit is very concerning. Indeed, it is very clear that they are directionless on Brexit, with the inability to answer questions, provide figures or details. This is a very stark indicator of the ill preparation that has gone into preparing for Brexit.

“During the questioning of the officials, it became clear that they were ill-prepared and oblivious to many of the key areas of concern for the Irish heath service post-Brexit. Indeed, the officials were unable to tell the committee how many Irish people are treated in Britain under the cross border healthcare directive. This is not a small oversight; the cross-border directive acts as a safety valve of sorts for waiting lists in the Irish health service and post-Brexit. With this option removed for Irish patients, it will have significant ramifications for the Irish health service.

“Similarly, the Department could provide no details of the service level agreement with Altnagelvin for radiology services. This has serious ramifications for cross border services and communities and one would have thought that this would be an area of significant priority for the Department.

“Despite Brexit being on the agenda for nearly a year in terms of the passing of the referendum, and indeed long before that when the issue was floated first, the Department have not been proactive in seeking, never mind providing, the information to the committee.

“Brexit is not a British issue. This is not an issue that will just affect the six counties in the North. It will affect people in Louth, Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, and beyond that. The reality is that cross-border healthcare agreements are under threat as a result of Brexit. Irish patients have been availing of health services in the North and in Britain under the EU Cross-Border Directive. From today’s engagement, it is clear that not enough work is being done by the Department to assess and identify how to minimise any adverse impacts on the provision of all-island health services and collaboration. This is unacceptable and the Minister must move this to a priority of his Department.” 

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