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Scrap private hospital co-location plan before contracts are signed – Ó Snodaigh

14 February, 2007

Dublin Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has called on Health Minister Mary Harney to scrap her plan to allocate land at public hospital sites to the developers of private hospitals before contracts are signed and the State is bound by legal agreements. Deputy Ó Snodaigh was speaking today at a protest organised by Dublin Sinn Féin outside the Head Office of the Progressive Democrats.

He said, "The Health Services Executive (HSE) is currently undertaking a procurement exercise to select consortia to build and operate private hospitals on 8 public hospital sites. These include St James' Hospital, Beaumont Hospital, Connolly Hospital (Blanchardstown), Adelaide & Meath Hospital Incorporating the National Children's Hospital (Tallaght) and others throughout the country.

"Health Minister Mary Harney has stated that the Health Service Executive envisages that the 'Invitation to Tender' to build and operate these hospitals will issue in March. She must halt this process now before the State becomes bound by legal contracts which will be signed once tenders are accepted.

"This is a disgraceful plan aimed at massively subsidising the private healthcare industry by providing land at public hospital sites as well as tax breaks for private, for-profit hospital developers to whom healthcare is just another way to make easy money. This plan pours money into the pockets of millionaires at the expense of ordinary tax-payers and public hospital patients and staff alike. This public money should be spent in the public system only on services that are available to all based on need alone.

"Furthermore, the Government has no mandate for this plan as it was never put before the people in an election manifesto by either the PDs or Fianna Fáil. It was not in the National Health Strategy and it was not in the Programme for Government. All opposition parties have now come out against this plan. However, as the Government's term of office comes to an end Mary Harney seems determined to force this plan through without a mandate. She must scrap this plan immediately." ENDS

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