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Irish Citizens accessing healthcare in other EU countries rising rapidly – O’Reilly

27 August, 2016 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Figures released to Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD show that since the cross-border healthcare directive was transposed in Ireland in 2014, 535 people have accessed the scheme up to 30th June 2016, with 371 of those in the first six months of this year alone. Of note, is that orthopaedic and orthodontic treatments are the most common services being sought in other jurisdictions.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“These figures are symptomatic of a worrying crisis in our health system- lengthening waiting lists and the inability to access treatments and services in a timely fashion. Indeed, the failure to tackle issues around access, capacity, funding and resources in our health service leave people reliant on schemes like the cross-border directive to get access to the health services they need.

"From the announcement of his five point plan to tackle waiting lists, it became clear that Minister Harris intends to utilise the National Treatment Purchase Fund as the solution to this deepening problem. However, outsourcing of the problem is not a long term solution, whether through the NTPF or the cross-border directive, and privatising more healthcare will simply not work.

“While I do welcome the fact that patients are getting access to treatments more quickly through use of the cross-border directive, especially in orthopaedic and orthodontic services where there is a serious and grave deficiency of treatments, as well as lengthening waiting lists, this is no replacement for the resourcing and funding of our own public health services to meet the demand. Indeed, it would appear we are paying for the services anyway so these resources would be better targeted at developing, enhancing and growing the services that are so direly needed here.  

“We see currently the Government’s plans to pour more money into private activity to temporarily reduce waiting lists, but they do not sufficiently resource frontline services to meaningfully deal with the causes of the crisis. We believe that their five point plan will fail.

“Previous waiting list initiatives had a localised or short-term effect but failed to challenge the structural inequality. This cannot be allowed to continue. That is why Sinn Féin proposed ‘Comhliosta’ – a new system to deal with hospital waiting lists.” 

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