7th May 2002
Sinn Fein propose integrated plan for the provision of public health service
Sinn Fein candidate for Dublin West Mary Lou McDonald slammed the government for pursuing policies that have led to growing inequalities in access to health and education. She said ten years of economic boom had raised peoples expectations but the government had dashed hopes of improved public services time and time again. Ms McDonald said:
``It is a disgrace that the poorer you are in Ireland, the more likely you are to become ill and to die prematurely. Access to quality health care is increasingly dependent on ability to pay and not on need. Public patients wait years for treatment that is available to private patients within weeks.
``Years of cut backs and under-funding have left us with almost 28,000 people waiting for hospital treatment, the worst life expectancy in Europe, 15% of acute beds have closed due to staff shortages and women are four times more likely to die from cancer than the European average.
``The result is that more and more people are turning to private health care as they are afraid to depend on public health care; others are abandoned on waiting lists.
``We want to end the two tier health system. We belive that the provision of a health care system free at the point of delivery is the priority. Sinn Fein is calling for the establishment of an all-party cabinet committee to bring forward an integrated plan for the strategic transformation of the health system. We also propose that:-
- Health funding is increased to 9% of GDP
- The medical card ibe extended to those on or below the minimum wage and everyone under 18 years who is in full time education
- Provision of free and prompt breast and cervical screening programmes for all women over 40 and for teenage girls
- A single waiting list that ensures access to treatment on the basis of need
- An end to the public subsidizing of private healthcare
- More public health nurses are employed and more support for carers in the home.
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