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Wasted money would have funded medical cards for children

26 June, 2006

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson and Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called on Health Minister Mary Harney to provide full medical cards for all children. Deputy Ó Caoláin was reacting to the Minister's announcement of measures to make it easier for people to qualify for the GP visit card.

He said, "While the extension of free GP services to more people will be welcome, Minister Harney should concentrate on providing full medical cover for those most in need in our society.

"This Government made a pre-election promise to increase medical cards by some 200,000. Instead of living up to its promise the Government have introduced the 'yellow pack' GP-only card.

"The money the Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrats government has wasted on the useless PPARS and FISP computer systems in the health services, and on electronic voting machines that don't work, would pay for medical cards to be extended to everyone under 18. Since 1999 over €195 million has been spent on these computer systems that does not work and has now been abandoned. Over €50 million was wasted on electronic voting. Yet it would cost E223 million to extend full medical card cover to all those under 18.

"What is needed is root and branch reform of the health system, including universal provision, with medical cards for children as a first step." ENDS

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