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Ó Caoláin calls for end to two-tier health system in Irish Medical News article

7 November, 2005

In an article in the latest edition of the Irish Medical News Sinn Féin leader in the Dáil and spokesperson on Health and Children, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin repeated his call for the ending of the two-tier healthcare system saying it is "characterised by inequality which contributes to inefficiency." He said, "We believe that public money should be spent on public health services only. It should not be used to subsidise the private health business."

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "This is a prosperous country. It is a small country. For a decade now the Irish economy has experienced record growth. Government revenues were never higher. Tax receipts have consistently exceeded forecasts. There is sufficient wealth in our society to ensure that, at the very least, no child should want for any of the basics of life and should be able to look forward to a full and rewarding future.

"We have thousands of skilled and dedicated people working at all levels of health care in Ireland today. But the system in which they work does not match that skill and dedication. For Sinn Féin the foundation stones of the health service must be equality and efficiency. But the Irish health system is characterised today by inequality which contributes to inefficiency."

In the same article Deputy Ó Caoláin also described as "scandalous" plans by the Tánaiste and Minister Health, Mary Harney, to provide land on public hospital sites to the developers of private hospitals. "State subsidisation for the private health business must end," he said.

He went on to say, "we must organise the taxation system in such a way that social expenditure can be enhanced. Social expenditure is what the State spends directly on its people through health, education, childcare, social welfare and 'social infrastructure' generally. Ireland has relatively low social expenditure in an EU context, as shown in a Combat Poverty Report published earlier this year. Better social expenditure for services that are more equitable and more efficient will be good for the overall economy. Such an approach to the health services will lead to a healthier population and a better Ireland." ENDS

Note: Full article can be read in the latest issue of the Irish Medical News or online at:

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