[Sinn Fein]

8th July 2002

NESF report on hospital care shows ``two-tier system must be ended'' - Ó Caoláin

Sinn Fein Dáil group leader and Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has said that the report of the National Economic and Social Forum on `Equality of Access to Hospital Care' clearly demonstrates the failure of government health policy. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``The NESF Report states that structural change is necessary to address the two-tier public/private system in hospital care and, most significantly, it states that this system is left unchanged in the Government's Health Strategy.

``The Report shows that private use of public hospitals is much greater in this State than in other EU states. It highlights the inequity between public and private patients in the waiting times for initial specialist appointments. Again the Government's Health Strategy makes no reference to the time spent waiting for first consultant appointment after referral by a GP.

``One of the most serious aspects of this Report is where it calls into question the Government's waiting list initiatives. It points out that there has been no formal evaluation of the value of these initiatives. It questions the criteria for evaluating patients in order of their clinical priority.

``The Government must now take this Report seriously, reflecting as it does, the call from the vast majority of people for an end to the class system in our health service. The Government's Health Strategy must be radically changed.''

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