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Public has no confidence in Government on Health - Ó Caoláin

19 September, 2006

Commenting on the Irish Examiner opinion poll, Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said it confirmed that the main issue of public concern is the state of our health services and that the people have no confidence in Health Minister Harney and in Government health policy. He urged people to support a major rally in Dublin demanding healthcare rights and organised by Sinn Féin for Saturday 21 October. Deputy Ó Caoláin stated:

"Today's Irish Examiner poll confirms what we in Sinn Féin have been hearing on the doorsteps and in meetings throughout the country during our campaign for healthcare rights. The state of our health services is the main issue of public concern as people experience directly the crisis in Accident and Emergency, delays and postponements of operations, inadequate services for those with medical cards and high costs for those who have to pay for care. The poll also confirms that the people have no confidence in Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney. Far from 'turning the corner' on health as Minister Harney has so often claimed, people know that she and her colleagues in the Fianna Fáil/PD Government have failed miserably after nine years in office.

"Throughout 2006 Sinn Féin has been campaigning on the health services. We have published a major policy document Healthcare in an Ireland of Equals, distributed half a million newsletters based on that policy throughout the country and met nurses, doctors, patients' representatives, local hospital campaigners and many more. Everywhere there is anger and frustration that despite the massive wealth in the Irish economy our health services still limp from crisis to crisis and people are being denied the care they need and deserve.

"The dire need for additional public hospital beds was shown in figures released in August which revealed that nearly 22,000 operations were cancelled by hospitals in 2005 -- mainly because there were not enough beds to accommodate the patients awaiting surgery. These delays cause terrible trauma to people preparing themselves for what are often very serious operations. We now have fewer hospital beds per head of population than we did five years ago, yet our population has grown. Only 535 extra acute hospital beds have been delivered since 2001 yet the FF/PD Government promised 3,000.

"Sinn Féin is calling on people to support our major rally demanding healthcare rights in Dublin on Saturday 21 October." ENDS

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