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Hospital at home teams should be available to all - Ó Caoláin

16 August, 2006

Sinn Féin Dáil leader and spokesperson on Health and Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said any initiative to treat hospital patients in their homes should be available to all on the basis of need alone and not given to the private sector for the sole benefit of the privileged in our society. Deputy Ó Caoláin made his remarks today after the chief executive of the HSE Brendan Drumme announced that they are considering introducing "hospital at home" teams, provided by the private sector, as a way of dealing with delays at accident and emergency departments.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "Sinn Féin views community based health and social services as the keystone around which all other health services should be structured. In that regard I welcome the concept of hospital at home services as a way of easing the crisis in our accident and emergency departments. However, these should be available to everybody on the basis of need alone and not given to the private sector for the sole benefit of the privileged in our society. To give such services to the private sector would only serve to strengthen the flawed two-tier health service.

"It is Sinn Féin's belief that where possible people should be treated in a community setting. Public investment should be concentrated in primary care in order to maximise care and treatment in the community, convenient to where people live, thus minimising the need for hospital or residential care.

"In our recently launched health policy document entitled Healthcare in an Ireland of Equals we made a number of policy proposals to this end. These included:

· The introduction of community based primary health and social care services for all, free at the point of delivery, including General Practitioner and dental services and the abolishment of all prescription charges.

· The development of a network of modern and accessible Primary Care Treatment Centres that would be adaptable enough to support a broad range of community services and act as multi-agency community resource centres.

· The establishment of a network of properly-resourced Primary Care Teams to oversee the delivery of primary care services in Community Health Partnership areas." ENDS

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