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Fianna Fáil health manifesto shredded by PDs - Harney's private hospitals will reinforce two-tier system - Morgan

15 July, 2005


Sinn  Féin  TD  Arthur  Morgan  has  described as “a fraud” the plan by the Tánaiste  and  Health  Minister  Mary  Harney  to fund private hospitals on
public   hospital   sites.  He  said  the  Tánaiste’s  plan  confirms  that
Progressive   Democrats   ideology  now  totally  dominates  the  Coalition
government and her plan will reinforce the two-tier health system.

Deputy Morgan said:

“The  Tánaiste  and  Minister  for  Health’s  plan  is  a fraud. The Health
Strategy  promised  an extra 3,000 beds in public hospitals. These have not
been  delivered.  Now  she proposes to provide massive subsidies, including
valuable land and tax breaks, to the private health business, so that 1,000
private  beds  currently  in public hospitals can be removed to new private
hospitals.  But these private beds should not be in public hospitals in the
first place. They should be provided and funded by the private system.

“The  Minister  claims that it would be too costly for the State to provide
the  public hospital beds as promised. But the Government does not know the
cost  of  its  tax breaks for private hospitals – tax breaks that will form
the  basis  of  this  new plan. Harney does not know how much her plan will
cost.

“With  this scheme the Tánaiste has also shredded what’s left of the Fianna
Fáil  2002  General  Election  manifesto health commitments. That manifesto
claimed  it  wanted  ‘the  end of the two-tier health system’. The Tánaiste
yesterday denied that we have a two-tier system.

“This fraudulent plan is also being hatched at a time when the contract for
hospital  consultants  has  still not been renegotiated. A new contract has
been  promised  since  2001,  in  order to ensure greater equity for public
patients  in hospital care, but no progress has been made. Now more private
hospitals  are  to be subsidised by the State, allowing many consultants to
continue  double-jobbing,  with their private patients getting preferential
treatment.”

“The Government should at the very least implement its own health strategy.
Sinn Féin supports a fully funded public health service, with equity of
care for all. Private health is a profitable business that should be
self-financing.” ENDS

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