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Sinn Féin present real alternative to grossly unequal and inefficient two-tier health system

3 May, 2006


Speaking at the launch of Sinn Féin’s All Ireland healthcare policy document, Healthcare in an Ireland of Equals, the party’s spokesperson on Health and Children in the Dáil, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, said he rejected the Governments "grossly unequal, unfair and inefficient two-tier, public-private health system."  He described the Sinn Féin policy as a "programme for fundamental change and a call to action," saying "it is a campaigning document that we will be bringing to communities the length and breadth of this island".  The central demand he argued was the "right to healthcare in an Ireland of Equals."

"With this comprehensive policy Sinn Féin is presenting the real alternative. We believe it is the most progressive health policy presented by any political party in Ireland."

Deputy Ó Caoláin went on to say, "We are calling on people not just to complain about the health services but to campaign and to demand the decent, equitable and efficient services that we need. Our healthcare workers can deliver them and our economy can well afford them."

 

Full statement by Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD follows:

"This Sinn Féin policy is both a programme for fundamental change and a call to action. It is a campaigning document and we will be bringing it to communities the length and breadth of this island as we demand the right to Healthcare in an Ireland of Equals.

"The crisis in the health services is worsening. The latest figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund show that there are nearly 30,000 people on hospital waiting lists. That’s four and a half years after Fianna Fáil promised to end hospital waiting lists altogether.

"People campaigning to retain services in local hospitals are being told these services are not viable. But if you are a property speculator who wants to avoid tax by developing a private hospital you will get a massive tax break from the Fianna Fáil/PD government no matter where you locate your profit-driven facility.

"With the money spent so far on tax breaks for private hospitals and on the failed computer systems for the HSE we could have funded an additional 1,000 public hospital beds.

"With its privatisation strategy, the Government is reinforcing the grossly unequal, unfair and inefficient two-tier, public-private health system in this State. We reject that system where people with wealth are guaranteed access to the best private services while others must suffer on trolleys and on waiting lists.

"With this comprehensive policy Sinn Féin is presenting the real alternative. We believe it is the most progressive health policy presented by any political party in Ireland.

  • We are proposing root and branch reform, the establishment of an all-Ireland health service with access based on need and not on ability to pay or geographic location. We want access for all, free at the point of delivery in an equitable system funded by fair and progressive taxation.
  • We are calling for all Government health funding to be invested in the public system, an end to tax breaks for private hospitals and to the Tánaiste’s land gift scheme and the replacement of the private system within an agreed timetable.
  • As a first step we are proposing the establishment of a Health Funding Commission to report within a reasonable timeframe on the projected costs of the transition to an all-Ireland system of universal provision. The Commission would take into account all spending on health services under the current systems, including State funding and private insurance, and make recommendations on how the State can best harness these resources in the interests of more equitable and efficient delivery. 

"There are a range of measures that need to be put in place to deal with the dire situation in the 26 Counties. These include:

  • The delivery of the additional 3000 hospital beds required
  • Rollout of the promised Primary Care centres
  • Halting the centralisation of hospital services and restoration of services at local hospitals
  • Public hospital consultants to work in the public system only.

"This is an All-Ireland policy with detailed proposals for the Six Counties also. The first phase of our campaign is concentrating on the 26 Counties but we are seeking a new Health System for the entire island.

"We are calling on people not just to complain about the health services but to campaign and to demand the decent, equitable and efficient services that we need. Our healthcare workers can deliver them and our economy can well afford them.” ENDS

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