People Before Profit TD and Health Spokesperson Gino Kenny will raise the issue of “misleading health budget headline figures” at this morning’s Health Committee session.
He will say: “It is clear when you drill down past the government spin on the health budget you can see that the increase in Budget 2021 is not €4 billion as the government likes to trumpet. The real figure is in fact closer to only €2 billion more than the 2015 budget.
“The Budget of 2021 clearly does not go far enough to deal with the chronic issues in the health service- notably ICU capacity, staffing levels, nurses pay and conditions and proper PPE provisions.
“There is a significant shortfall between the 321 ICU beds the Minister intends to have in place by the end of 2021 and the 579 ICU beds the Irish Hospitals Consultants Association (IHCA) claim must be in place by end of 2020. There is also a shortfall between the 1,281 acute care beds the budget allocates for and the 3,300 beds the IHCA claim are needed almost immediately.
“We cannot discuss increasing ICU capacity until we have the staffing levels to match the beds requirement. It is clear from the Call for Ireland and the testing and tracing contract scandal that the recruitment of health workers has been a shambles. We need health workers now more than ever and they need to be given good pay, conditions and terms of employment with secure contracts.”
The TD will also raise issues of the treatment of Health Service staff at the session.
He will say: “Staff in the health service have been treated appallingly throughout this pandemic – student nurses, junior doctors, nurses working for less pay under tremendous additional pressure, the use of agency staff to fill gaps in the system, the exploitation of foreign doctors, and the latest news, the proposed deportations of health care workers who have put their life on the line throughout this pandemic.
“Across the sector workers have been overworked while being provided little protection by PPE, put on temporary contracts, paid less than their counterparts. Our health sector workers are the lifeline of our health system and yet, Budget 2021 has little detail on future nurses and healthcare worker recruitment.”