PBP to raise ongoing issues with government during health and social protection sessions during Dáil sitting today
At a media conference on the Dáil plinth this morning, People Before Profit TDs Richard Boyd Barrett, Bríd Smith and Gino Kenny said that it was “vital” that the Dáil continues to meet during this crisis in order to ensure that democracy continues to function and that there is an opportunity for opposition TD’s to raise the many concerns of the public and to hold the government to account.
In the Dáil today, Richard Boyd Barrett will be highlighting many of the issues that have arisen over the last days from members of the public.
The Dáil will today have two sessions- health and social protection.
· The particular details around the deal between the Department of Health and the private hospitals for the duration of the crisis, how much this deal will cost the Irish State, why the secondment of private health facilities is time limited to the crisis when it is clear that a fully public health system is in the interest of public health going forward.
· The plans to take productive capacity of necessary medical equipment and facilities (including but not limited to ventilators, lab capacity, PPE, testing equipment and reagent) under public control.
· The delay in testing and the shortage of testing equipment.
· The crisis in our nursing homes and the danger this poses to the health of our elderly and health workers.
· The alarming rate of incidence of Covid19 amongst health workers
· Those living in overcrowded conditions such as Direct Provision, Homeless Hubs, Hostels etc
Speaking on this Richard Boyd Barrett TD said: “We need to hear from the government the specific detail about the deal between the Department of Health and the private healthcare facilities. It had been reported that Leo Varadkar had said that this arrangement would be not for profit, but we need to know the precise details of the financial agreement that has been struck.
“We also want to hear the rationale for why the secondment of private healthcare would be time limited to the Covid 19 crisis. What has been shown clearly is that a two-tier model of healthcare provision cannot provide for the needs of a society during crisis and, as we have seen from our experience, in normal times.
“Once this crisis is over, we cannot return to the days of the trolley crisis, overcrowding, staff shortages and a system where timely access is based on your ability to pay.
“I would, on behalf of People Before Profit, like to pay tribute to all the heroic people who are risking their health and wellbeing in order to fight this virus. Healthcare staff, retail worker and transport staff have put themselves in harms way during the last few months and they are heroes, one and all.”
Adding to this Gino Kenny TD said: “Today we will push for the government to take over the productive capacity of necessary medical equipment and facilities and place these under public control. We need more capacity to be directed to the production of ventilators, PPE testing equipment and reagent urgently. We also need to source more lab capacity so that we can increase the testing rates which to date have not been up to the required levels that WHO have identified.
“We also must increase testing amongst health care workers and in nursing homes where there is a particular risk. Overcrowded accommodation and living conditions must be addressed by this government. We have been raising this issue where very many people, including homeless people, families, people in Direct Provision, migrants and students are still being forced to live in unsatisfactory, overcrowded conditions where they are unable to self-isolate.”
· The need for a Universal Payment of €350 for all so that everyone that is out of work or has lost income as a result of the pandemic can get a payment. Currently there are anomalies including those over 66, those who have an underlying health condition, those who work in the gig economy, students on work/study visas who had not started work before the relevant date and those who have recently returned to Ireland as a result of the pandemic.
· The need for the payment to also cover those on disabilities, pensioners etc who are already in receipt of SW payments but that are of lower amounts.
· Rent Allowance for those unable to meet rents
· Reward payments for frontline workers
Speaking on the measures that the group will raise in the social protection session, Bríd Smith TD said: “There are many vulnerable people who are unable to get the Covid 19 emergency payment including people over 66, people working in the gig economy and students who have come to Ireland for English Language studies and have not yet been in work or attained a PPS number. Many of these people are vulnerable and frightened- their rent will still be due at the end of the month; bills will still have to be paid and yet they are deemed to not qualify for the payment. We will be calling on the government to fix these anomalies so everyone in this country can feel somewhat financially secure during this uncertain time.
“Payment for people on disability and pensioners who are already in receipt of social welfare payment needed to be brought up and rent allowance for those unable to meet their rent should be increased.
“Finally, we are reiterating our call for the government to give frontline workers like, health staff, transport workers, and retail staff a reward payment for the heroic work that they are doing- risking their health and wellbeing for the people of this state. They should be rewarded for their efforts and selfless bravery.”