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Private hospital spin cannot hide two-tier waiting list - Ó Caoláin

26 October, 2006

Commenting on claims that private hospitals such as the Beacon Hospital, opened by the Minister for Health Mary Harney yesterday, will treat both private and public patients, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the spin from the Minister and Beacon Hospital "cannot hide the two-tier waiting list with public patients on the bottom tier".

Speaking today Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "Health Minister Mary Harney, who opened the Beacon Hospital yesterday, is clearly driving forward with her privatisation of the Irish hospital system. In doing so she is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the Irish public. Both the Minister and Beacon Hospital are trying to give the impression that there will be equal access for all patients -- both public and private -- to such hospitals. This is not the case.

"Those dependent on the public system, either people with medical cards or those who do not qualify and are without health insurance cover, will have to wait in line while private patients are accommodated first in these for-profit hospitals. There is a two-tier waiting list with public patients on the bottom tier.

"These private hospitals are benefiting from tax breaks and from contracts to treat a limited number of public patients. The Government is thus subsidising both inequality and inefficiency. Instead this money should be spent in the public system with equal access for all." ENDS

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