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Governement Finally Abandons Failed Health Policy
Last updated on 07 Dec, 2015
The Government’s health strategy is in complete disarray after Fine Gael was forced to admit its own Universal Health Insurance plan isn’t viable and will never be implemented.
The Government has spent almost five years failing to bring about meaningful reform in the health service to improve patient care and reduce waiting times to alleviate the pressure on front-line staff.
Every year this Government has produced a health budget that was fundamentally flawed, targets that were wholly unrealistic and cuts that impacted on patient services. Universal Health Insurance was the cornerstone of Fine Gael’s health philosophy for the past ten years and longer. The Taoiseach promised it in 2007 and in 2011. He said it would eliminate the number of people waiting on trolleys, reduce waiting times and provide equal access to all. Instead we have record numbers of people on trolleys, record waiting times and morale at an all-time low in our health service.
The Taoiseach has been in denial for the past five years on this issue. He has kept saying publicly that the Government would deliver Universal Health Insurance. He even said that a time of economic crisis was the best time to deliver it. The Taoiseach was told repeatedly that it was unworkable by officials in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Finance. He was told this in an independent study commissioned by Fianna Fáil and undertaken by Dr Brian Turner of U.C.C. That study raised the very same concerns KPMG, who were appointed by the Government and the ESRI have now raised. This has resulted in the inevitable abandonment of Universal Health Insurance, central to the Governments health policy.
For example in Cork waiting lists and times have spiralled out of control. Recent figures show a staggering 124% increase in the number of patients waiting more than 12 months for an out-patient appointment at the South Infirmary-Victoria Hospital, a 107% increase at the Mercy University Hospital and a 90% increase in the number of patients waiting a year or more for an appointment at Cork University Hospital (CUH). The number of people waiting more than 18 months for an In Patient and Day Case appointment has increased by almost 270% at the Mercy University Hospital and by 150% at the South Infirmary-Victoria Hospital since Leo Varadkar replaced James O’Reilly in July 2014.
Fianna Fáil’s plan for the health service is to build-up patient services not dismantle them. We want to increase the level of primary and community care available and we want to protect and invest in our public hospitals. I am committed to restoring the NTPF to its former role and properly resource it to tackle the waiting list crisis. It is astonishing the scale to which the Government have reversed so much progress made in the delivery of health care.