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Co-location scheme is complete shambles – Ó Caoláin

13 April, 2007

Following confirmation from the HSE that contracts for the private for-profit hospitals on public hospital sites will not likely be signed until after the General Election and claims by HSE Chief Brendan Drumm that he has never discussed the scheme with Health Minister Mary Harney, Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has described the co-location plan as "a complete shambles".

Reaffirming Sinn Féin's call for the plan to be scrapped, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"HSE Chief Brendan Drumm stated on RTÉ radio this morning that he had not discussed the co-location scheme with Health Minister Mary Harney. This is quite extraordinary, given that the Government claims this scheme is going to 'free up' 1,000 beds in the public hospital system and given that, if it proceeds, it would be one of the most far-reaching changes in the health system in decades.

"Professor Drumm was totally unclear in his response to the question as to whether the proposed ten co-location sites have been reduced to four. He is clearly deeply uncomfortable with the entire project. Then we learned that the HSE director of the project, Tom Finn, has stated that eight sites are to go ahead, with contracts unlikely to be signed until the end of the May.

"This scheme is a complete shambles. The proposed number of hospital sites involved has fluctuated over the past 12 months yet the Government maintains its claim that 1,000 public beds will be 'freed up'. This developer-driven, for-profit scheme will worsen the two-tier hospital system and drain funding and personnel from the public system. It should be abandoned without further delay." ENDS

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