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Taoiseach confirms Government backsliding on extra 3,000 hospital beds - Ó Caoláin

16 May, 2006

Sinn Féin Dáil leader and spokesperson on Health and Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is now "backsliding" on the Government's solemn commitment to provide an additional 3,000 hospital beds in the public hospital system.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "When I questioned the Taoiseach in the Dáil today on the health services I stated that we need 3,000 additional beds in our public hospital system, the Taoiseach replied: 'That is argued by the medical professionals. We will see what figure they will come up with in their review.'

"This reply from the Taoiseach confirms that he and his Government are now backsliding on their solemn commitment to provide the additional 3,000 beds so badly needed to address the crisis in our hospital system. In the Government's own Health Strategy published in 2001 and in the Programme for Government agreed between the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste after the General Election in 2002 there is a clear commitment to provide the additional 3,000 beds.

"The FF/PD Programme for Government of 2002 (page 22) states: 'We will expand public hospital beds in line with a programme to increase total capacity by 3,000 during the period of the [Health] Strategy.'

"The figure of 3,000 beds was based on the widespread research and consultation that went into the Government's own Health Strategy. They are needed to replace the capacity cut from our hospital system during the 1980s.

"These beds are also essential as part of the multi-faceted approach to address the crisis in Accident and Emergency as dramatically highlighted once again by last night's Prime Time programme. They are essential to ensure that our hospitals have the capacity to deal with all the medical and surgical needs of patients. Nothing less is acceptable." ENDS

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