Nothing less than €1.2 billion investment needed to alleviate health crisis – Harris’ €40 million a ‘sick joke’
In a statement, People Before Profit TD for Dublin Mid-West, Gino Kenny, has called for emergency investment of €1.2 billion into the public health system for urgent funding of frontline staff and beds and a total reversal of the austerity lead policies of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil that have been destroying the health service for decades.
Mr Kenny also slammed the “incompetence of Minister for Health, Simon Harris, and the HSE CEO, Tony O’Brien”, over what Deputy Kenny labelled an “outrageous situation” regarding emergency department overcrowding and trolley crisis that has reached breaking point over the winter period.
The main reason there are queues of patients on trolleys is that there are not enough beds or staff in our depleted hospital sector.
There were 18,000 beds in the 1980s but now there are barely more than 10,000. With population growth the Public Health System now needs more than 10,000 extra beds to come up to the EU average (equivalent to 22,560 beds for Ireland). Fine Gael has slashed 1600 beds according to Irish Medical Organisation.
Out of 34 OECD countries Ireland is now 24th for doctors and 27th for beds. Minister Simon Harris was warned by the HSE that the paltry ‘Winter Initiative’ funding of €40 million was insufficient. €40 million is less than 0.3% of the Health budget. Poor staffing of Primary Care is exacerbating this crisis and needs urgent funding, as well as, but not instead of, urgently fixing beds and staffing capacity in the hospitals.
Mr Kenny also attacked former Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil lead governments for their neglect of the public health system and the chronic privatisation that has brought the system to its knees.
He said, “Fine Gael/Labour and Fianna Fáil/Green coalitions in Government have consistently undermined the public health service and have promoted the private for-profit sector including Private Health Insurance, Private Hospitals, Private Nursing Homes, Private Home Helps and Pharmaceutical companies. The for-profit model is known to be wasteful and chaotic. We need to stop paying excessive prices for drugs and healthcare to private for-profit companies who are only making things worse.
“The HSE is dysfunctional, the CEO should resign and the Health Service should be in the control of frontline staff and local community representatives. The government should immediately allocate an emergency €1.2 billion funding into the Health Service. This would mean restoring the accountability of Department of Health and establishing Community Health Councils as a watchdog to ensure political and commercial interference are not allowed to distort good health policy in the future.
“To fix the political underfunding of our public service and the wastage of the private sector in the medium term means we must urgently nationalise healthcare in Ireland. This means we need to legislate for and fund a National Health Service.
“Minister Harris and the whole of the government should hang their heads in shame because of this scandal in our public health service. Minister Harris said that this crisis could not have been predicted despite the fact that the HSE warned him that the ‘Winter Initiative’ funding of €40 million was totally insufficient.”
Notes- The government should immediately allocate an emergency €1.2 billion funding into the Health Service:
Open 1000 beds as emergency priority for Health service: €300 million
Hire 4000 new nurses, 500 consultants and 500 GPs: €600 million
Build new Primary Care Services: €200 million
Demand-led Home Care Packages: €100 million