[Sinn Fein]

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:-

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