Brexit ‘a serious threat to critical health provision’ – O’Reilly
Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that the vast majority of people across Ireland realise that healthcare must be developed on an all-Ireland basis.
Speaking at the first day of the National Ploughing Championships, O’Reilly, who addressed a Sinn Féin organised discussion on a United Ireland said:
“The vast majority of people across Ireland realise that healthcare must be developed on an all-Ireland basis. There is an explicit understanding in light of the successes of increased health cooperation that the next step to work towards would be full integration of services on the island, maximising healthcare benefits for all and achieving greater economies of scale.”
The Dublin Fingal TD said an analysis of the success of shared services and the pooling of talented healthcare staff showed cooperation works and provided the foundations for full integration:
“In the South, the benefits of shared services permeate the whole 26 counties. It is not just border counties who benefit. A number of exciting projects have been developed over the years, and many more are being planned for development.
“These include work on shared radiotherapy and paediatric cardiac services; health promotion focusing on alcohol, tobacco and obesity; cancer research; mental health; and suicide prevention.
“There is already a shared understanding, North and South, that health is an area of opportunity for shared provision. However, Brexit could derail all of this. In the 18 months to 30th June 2016, the HSE reimbursed €659,245.09 for treatments and services in the North under the cross-border healthcare directive. This represented 277 people.
“That is because illness, disease and health know no borders and these figures demonstrate that people are willing to travel for vital services and treatments when they are needed. It is of major concern that this scheme could cease North and South in the fallout from Brexit.”
Teachta O’Reilly said that Brexit also threatened all-Ireland tertiary and quaternary care, and clinical trials for medicines and treatments which are carried out on an all-Ireland basis.
“There are a record number of shared health services operating on a North-South basis. Those operating these services and those using them know that sickness and disease do not respect arbitrary borders and they are keenly aware that between North and South we have some of the best hospitals, doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals in the world.
“The growth of shared services is an acknowledgement that it makes sense to operate healthcare on an all-Ireland basis and the successes of these shared services to date is living proof of that.
“Brexit means that not only are current shared services under threat, but future services are under threat. It is patently true that Brexit is bad for your health.
“We have worked too hard, North and South for the benefits of all-Ireland cooperation to let the decisions of little Englanders overrule the democratic will of the people of the north of Ireland.
“It now behoves us to do everything in our power to ensure that there is no return to the borders of the past and that we do all we can to ensure that the north of Ireland can remain in the EU and share not only in the benefits that it brings, but also shares in the benefits of what all-Ireland cooperation brings.”