Budget 2022 will fail patients and healthcare workers - David Cullinane TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has said that Budget 2022 does not go far enough to bolster the health service ahead of a difficult winter.
Teachta Cullinane said the government’s core health budget for new measures of €396m will fail to make change in comparison to Sinn Féin’s package of €1.4bn.
He pointed out that the government’s figure of €1b includes €717m in pre-committed standstill money, which is not new measure spending and will not increase capacity.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“Budget 2022 needed a package of measures that would make the health service work for everyone.
“Clearly, it does not work for the 900,000 people on hospital waiting lists, the 200,000 people waiting more than 18 months and the 100,000 children waiting for care.
“It does not work for the backlog of 200,000 people waiting on access to diagnostic scans.
“I have visited hospitals across the state in the last few weeks - in Cork, Sligo, Limerick, and later this week in Galway, and have met with hospital management, workers, and union representatives.
“What they are saying is that emergency department attendances are up, trolley counts are up, waiting times are through the roof, and they need major investment in beds, diagnostics, and theatre capacity.
“This will only get worse as we face a difficult winter of overcrowding.
“It is clear that the government does not realise the scale of the challenge in health, and this Budget falls far short of what is needed to tackle waiting lists, invest in public hospitals, and bolster community healthcare.
“Sinn Féin has a vision to integrate healthcare across primary, community, and acute sectors to make it work better.
“That includes 828 additional new-build public beds next year, a €150m fund for upgrading and expanding theatre capacity and equipment, and a major focus on digitisation and IT modernisation.
“We need to reduce dependency on acute hospitals for those who could be cared for closer to home and in the community, such as those with chronic diseases.
“That requires significant investment in joining up IT systems, including digital patient records, and care in the community.
“There is a crisis in our hospitals, but this government can only deliver more of the same with an over-reliance on outsourcing to the private sector.
“The government’s €250m waiting list plan relies on one-off spending taken out of the Covid allocation, including €50m for the NTPF.
“We need to reduce, not increase, our reliance on the private sector, and increase public hospital capacity to deliver care for public patients.
“Hospitals across the State have applications and business cases underway for hundreds of beds, yet government has provided nothing extra to deliver new beds next year.
“Consultants are without adequate diagnostic equipment and theatre capacity, and government has provided nothing to ease these constraints except outsourcing.
“The government committed to 14,500 new staff last year but only delivered half of it. They have repackaged the remainder as new staff next year.
“Our alternative budget had a package of measure totalling €1.4bn in additional spend, compared to government’s €396m in new current and capital funding.
“Sinn Féin would have addressed the crisis in mental health services with proposals totalling €113m to expand CAMHS, primary mental health care, and universal counselling.
“This is compared to the government’s woefully inadequate €24m.
“Similarly, in disability services, we would have increased funding by €112m compared to the government’s €55m in core spending.
“Sinn Féin has a plan to make the health service work for everyone.
“This government has run out of ideas, and Budget 2022 will fail patients and workers alike.”