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Harney's fanaticism putting public health system at risk - Ó Caoláin

12 December, 2006

Sinn Féin’s Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called again on Minister Harney to abandon her plan to transfer public hospital land to private developers. He was speaking following the announcement that sites at Letterkenny and Galway have been re-opened for tender for private development.


The Cavan-Monaghan TD said: “Since Sinn Féin was the first party to highlight this scandalous proposal in the summer, political opposition to it has steadily increased across party divides. The whole process has been marked by incompetence,  unanswered questions and Minister Harney’s inexplicable determination to implement a policy for which no cost-benefit analysis has been done, which is not evidence-based, but which will massively enrich private developers at the expense of our public hospital system.


“Minister Harney’s fanatical commitment to her latest scheme to channel public money to private investors knows no bounds. Dr Fergus O’Farrell of the Adelaide Hospital Society said the proposal did not represent an ‘evidence based’ approach to health policy.  The Minister has ignored this advice, and that of numerous healthcare professionals.She is also acting in defiance of the unanimous voice of elected represetnatives on the HSE West Health Forum.


“The Minister claims that the private hospitals built under this scheme will accommodate 1,000 private beds currently located in public hospitals, thus ‘freeing up’ 1,000 public beds. However, the Tánaiste has given no breakdown of how such a transfer would operate. She has given no timetable. There is no mandate for these proposals. Crucially, she has not made clear whether these beds would be part of, or in addition to, the 3,000 additional beds promised under the Government’s own Health Strategy published in 2001.


“According to the ICTU-commissioned  Health Report: A New Agenda For Health Care Reform private hospitals will receive €40 million in tax breaks for every €100 million they invest, plus the value of the public land on which the hospital is built. Taxpayers will continue to subsidise, and indeed increase the subsidy, for the private healthcare system.


“Rather than re-opening the tendering process, Minister Harney should be abandoning it. Sinn Féin is calling for public land and public finances to be used in the public system only. Across the globe health policy researchers and economists believe investment in the public health sector is the way to deliver quality health services. Let the Government try health policies proven to work, and not those destined to expensive failure.”



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