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Ó Caoláin exposes Government shambles on health

18 October, 2006


Questioning the Taoiseach during Leader's Questions in the Dáil this morning, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD raised the issue of the Government's proposals to transfer land at public hospitals to private developers. Describing the Taoiseach's performance as 'completely disconnected from reality', he went on to accuse the Taoiseach of putting the interests of private profiteers before those of the Irish people without a mandate.

The Cavan-Monaghan TD said: "The Taoiseach's performance this morning in the Dáil was that of a man completely disconnected from the reality of the health policies his own Government is pursuing. He seems unable to accept that the Government's shambolic healthy policy is in tatters. He repeated the claim of the Minister for Health that this plan will free up 1000 beds. Is he not aware that the Minister and the head of the HSE Professor Brendan Drumm cannot agree on how many extra hospital beds we need? She claims to be still aiming for 3000, even though the Government has delivered only 535 since 2001? Professor Drumm claims we do not need 3000.

"The Taoiseach ignores the point I made that the parent company of one of the bidders for these sites has paid $1.7 billion to the US Justice Department to settle a raft of criminal and civil charges brought against it by the US Government. These are the kinds of people the Government is prepared to trust the sick and vulnerable of our society to with a policy that makes neither economic nor medical sense.

"These are the privateers that are bidding to manage hospitals in the Irish health service. The bidding and tendering process is under way as we speak. This policy will have profound implications for our hospitals -- reinforcing the two-tier public-private system, rewarding private profiteers in the exclusive private health business. It will take health professionals out of the public system. The Government has no mandate for this policy yet it is implementing it in the dying days of this administration. The Government should abandon this plan now and spend public money where it should be spent -- on public health services with access for all regardless of ability to pay."

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